Garcia lashes out at Lagman for taking Ombudsman’s side on her dismissal

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House Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia on Wednesday delivered a scathing privilege speech slamming her colleague, Albay first-district Rep. Edcel Lagman, after the latter was quoted in a news report as saying that the Office of the Ombudsman was within its rights to dismiss her.

The Cebu congresswoman quoted Lagman’s words in the news article stating, “I don’t know what Constitution he is talking about,” in reaction to Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’ earlier statement that there was nothing in the 1987 Constitution giving the Ombudsman the right to discipline members of the House of Representatives.

Lagman’s remark prompted Garcia to read passages from the Constitution as well as the Ombudsman law to stress the point that the Ombudsman did not wield such an authority to suspend or dismiss House members.

“The question now is does the Ombudsman law allow the Ombudsman to dismiss a member of the House of Representatives? The answer is no. The Ombudsman law specifically and expressly prohibits it. Section 21 specifically excludes from the disciplinary authority of the Ombudsman all members of Congress,” she said.

Garcia said the discipline of House members was the exclusive domain of the House of Representatives.

“And so I ask, that instead of allowing an illegal encroachment on what is constitutionally and statutorily the domain of this House, we all stand together. Not necessarily to stand with me but to stand true to the Constitution and the laws,” she said.

Garcia indicated that she did not wish to entertain questions, but Lagman stood up and said he reserved the right to respond to her speech, as “my name was extensively mentioned by the honorable Deputy Speaker.”

Lagman said he would defer making a comment as it was Valentine’s Day.