Thursday, February 3, 2011
Ombudsman should scrap the plea bargain deal to Garcia says Drilon
SENATE OFFICE, Manila, February 3, 2011- In a recent testimonies of two (2) witnesses who appeared in the congressional hearings yesterday, Senator Franklin Drilon, a former Justice secretary, said that the Office of the Ombudsman should immediately scuttle the plea bargain deal struck between state prosecutors and former military comptroller and ex-General Carlos Garcia who was accused of plunder, adding that state prosecutors should present former Armed Forces budget officer George Rabusa and former state auditor Heidi Mendoza as witnesses for the prosecution.
“When they entered into that plea bargaining agreement these testimonies obviously were not present,” Drilon said, explaining that with these testimonies now there is reason to rescind the agreement and simply submit the new evidence in court and proceed with the trial for plunder.
“There is no reason for Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez to say that the evidence is weak in arriving at a plea bargain deal with Garcia that in effect reduced the former military general’s plunder case of at least P300 million to a lesser offense of direct bribery and violation of the Anti-Money Laundering Law,” the Senator added.
He furthered that the evidence is strengthened a hundred times by the testimonies of these people and therefore, they should withdraw from that plea bargaining, rescind it, proceed with the trial and present other witnesses.
Earlier, Ombudsman Gutierrez and former military comptroller Garcia finally showed up at the House of Representatives Justice Committee probe into the latter’s controversial plea bargain agreement while former military chief of staff Angelo Reyes, Diomedio Villanueva and Roy Cimatu snubbed the hearing, which had already branched off into an investigation on the alleged payola among top military brass.
Former state auditor Heidi Mendoza dominated the proceedings where she narrated how she labored on building up the case against Garcia.
Ombudsman Guttierez advised DOJ secretary Laila de Lima to mind her own business and just do her job in the DOJ and do not interfere in the affairs of the Ombudsman particularly in the case on plea bargaining agreement filed by Garcia for the DOJ secretary doesn’t have the facts of the case.
Meanwhile, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile joined Drilon in his view that said plea bargaining agreement should be scrapped off and proceed to the investigation of the case. (Jason de Asis)
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