Garcia: Ombudsman targeted me to escape impeachment

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Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia slammed Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales for ordering her dismissal from service, calling the decision a “blatant abuse of power to shield herself from being impeached and held accountable for her own questionable actions.”

“The timing of the OMBUDSMAN’s Resolution to dismiss me from service is highly suspicious, and amounts to a blatant attempt to strong arm me into helping her escape impeachment by the House of Representatives,” the House leader said.

She issued the statement hours after the Office of the Ombudsman dismissed Garcia from the service in connection with the allegedly anomalous purchase of a P98.9-million Balili property when she was the governor of Cebu.

“I note that the complaint in this case was filed by now Governor Hilario Davide at the height of the 2013 elections in an attempt to suspend me and influence the elections,” the Cebu congresswoman said.

“I certainly hope that the Ombudsman will act on my complaint regarding Davide’s criminal neglect of the CICC (Cebu International Convention Center) with the same vigor and haste, and that the public would see through the OMBUDSMAN’s blatant abuse of power to shield herself from being impeached and held accountable for her own questionable actions,” Garcia said.

She earlier said she suspected that her dismissal was connected to her zeal in impeaching Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

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.