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Garcia slams timing of dismissal: Ombudsman has ‘singled me out’ due to Sereno case

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Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia questioned on Monday the timing of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales’ order to dismiss her from the service in connection with the allegedly anomalous purchase of a P98.9-million Balili property when she was the governor of Cebu.

“The timing is rather suspect. It does seem as though the Ombudsman has singled me out for an act that was done when I was still a governor several years ago,” the Cebu congresswoman told reporters.

“And you rather wonder whether this was purposely done precisely because as you saw I am very active in this impeachment hearing against Chief Justice Sereno,” she said.

Garcia was one of the House members who endorsed the impeachment complaint against Sereno.

She said she would continue her work and leave it to the House leadership whether to implement the Ombudsman’s order.

“I was elected by the constituents of the third district precisely to represent them and represent their sentiments. I will continue to be very active in the impeachment hearing ongoing against the Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno,” she said.

The Ombudsman dismissed Garcia for grave misconduct when it found that she had no authority from the Sanguniang Panlalawigan to enter into contracts with the construction firm.

In June 2008, Garcia purchased the controversial Balili property, a 249,246 square meter lot in Tinaan, Naga, Cebu, for P98,926,800. Local authorities later discovered that 196,696 square meters of the property were underwater and part of a mangrove area.

The Ombudsman directed Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to implement the dismissal order, which carries the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, cancellation of eligibility, and forfeiture of retirement benefits.