Thursday, January 6, 2011

Aquino: We’ll go to SC if Sandigan junks our plea on Garcia case

If the Sandiganbayan turns down the Aquino administration’s plea to junk the plea bargain deal with former military comptroller Carlos Garcia, the executive branch may turn to the Supreme Court to get a ruling favorable to the government.

President Benigno Aquino III, whose administration is known for clashing with the Supreme Court on several instances, had this to say Thursday when asked about the chances of Solicitor General Jose Anselmo Cadiz's urgent motion for leave to intervenewith attached motion for intervention that was filed before the Sandiganbayan.

"Pag adverse ang ruling ng Sandiganbayan, nandiyan pa naman ang Supreme Court na pwedeng mapaliwanag or pwedeng ireverse ang Sandiganbayan kung sakali," he said in an ambush interview in Subic. 

(If the Sandiganbayan issues an adverse ruling, there's always the Supreme Court that can clarify or reverse the Sandiganbayan decision, if ever.)

Aquino, however, said he is confident that Cadiz presented his arguments well, pointing out that the Armed Forces of the Philippines itself attested in the petition that it did not give its consent to the plea bargaining deal approved by the Sandiganbayan in May 2010. 

In 2005, a military court found Garcia guilty of violating Articles of War 96 (undeclared wealth) and 97 (conduct prejudicial to good military order and discipline).

The charges stemmed from allegations that he failed to declare his true assets and enjoyed permanent resident status (having a “green card") in the United States.

He was stripped of his rank and was dishonorably discharged from the service. His benefits were also forfeited. He was likewise sentenced to two years of hard labor.

After the military court concluded its own hearing on the case with a conviction, the issue was tossed to the Sandiganbayan.

A member of the Philippine Military Academy class of 1971, Garcia was charged before the Sandiganbayan with plunder, a non-bailable offense, and violation of the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) Section 4-A for allegedly amassing P300 million in bribe money.

However, he entered a "not guilty plea" to these charges.

He instead pleaded guilty to the lesser offenses of knowledge of unlawful transactions under Section 4-B of the AMLA, and to direct bribery, a bailable offense under the Revised Penal Code.

Last December, Garcia walked free from detention at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Quezon City after posting a P60,000 bail.

Aside from him, also charged with plunder are Garcia's wife and three sons, who are alleged to have either brought or spent the questionable wealth.

The three are all detained at different locations in the United States and are currently the subject of extradition cases.—With Sophia M. Dedace/JV, GMANews.TV

No comments:

Post a Comment