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President Aquino expresses hope that General Garcia’s plea bargain will be rejected

By Zaldy Lenon / Art B. Uy

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT – President Aquino expressed hope yesterday that the Sandiganbayan would rule favorably on the Office of the Solicitor General’s motion to intervene in the case of former military comptroller Carlos Garcia and have his bail revoked and his plea bargaining agreement rejected.

“There are technical aspects and I suppose what the Solicitor General presented was good,” Aquino said in ambush interview with reporters after the the blessing and naming of two bulk carriers built by Korean shipbuilder Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Co.-Philippines.

He also said he had instructed concerned authorities to run after Garcia in whatever way they could such as through the filing of a tax evasion case.

While he was confident with what the OSG presented, Aquino said the plea bargaining agreement could be questioned before the Supreme Court as well.

The President said the plea bargaining agreement, which Garcia entered into with special prosecutors, would allow him to walk free after returning P135 million of the P303 million that he allegedly stole from the government. He had pleaded guilty to lesser offenses of indirect bribery and violation of the Anti-Money Laundering Law under the plea bargain when he was originally charged with plunder.

He was allowed to post a total of P60,000 bail, granted on the same day it was filed, on Dec. 16 but the plea bargaining agreement had been a “done deal” as early as May, according to Solicitor General Jose Anselmo Cadiz.

The President reiterated that the plea bargain was done without the consent of the offended parties – the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Department of National Defense.

“But on top of that, there are other attended cases like the tax, so these are the instructions. In my belief, something wrong happened here and the state must be able to push for the people’s interest and have those who committed irregularities punished,” Aquino said.

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