Carlos Garcia opts to stay behind bars


FORMER military comptroller Carlos Garcia will spend an indefinite time inside prison despite his pending release from the National Bilibid Prison on Sunday.

The Sandiganbayan Second Division issued a commitment order against Garcia after the Bureau of Corrections reminded the anti-graft court that Garcia’s term behind bars will end on September 15.

On August 22, director Franklin Bucayu of the Bureau of Corrections informed Associate Justice Teresita Diaz-Baldos, chairman of the Second Division, that Garcia’s sentence for violation of Articles 96 and 97 of the Articles of War will expire on Sunday.

“The court resolves to issue a commitment order for the continued detention of accused Carlos Garcia . . . at the National Bilibid Prison until further orders,” the one-page minute of proceedings read.

According to lawyer Jaime Cabrera, clerk of court of Second Division, the Sheriff Division has already served the commitment order to the Bilibid.

The Sandiganbayan downgraded Garcia’s plunder charge to direct bribery and facilitating money laundering.

It also upheld the plea bargaining agreement between the Office of the Ombudsman and Garcia in return of Garcia’s P135.43-million assets and allowed him to post bail.

However, the Armed Forces convicted him of violating Articles of War 96 and 97 related to his alleged untruthful declarations in his 2002 and 2003 statements of assets, liabilities and net worth.

The Philippine National Police arrested Garcia in September 2011 and has since remained behind bars.

Recently, the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order stopping the Sandiganbayan from sentencing Garcia with his lesser offenses.

The Sandiganbayan invalidated in July the P60,000 bail bond that he posted after the anti-graft court upheld the plea bargaining agreement.

Notwithstanding his pending release, Garcia asked the anti-graft court magistrates not to uproot him from the prison facility where he is presently detained.

He requested the anti-graft court that “in the event of release,” he still wanted to be inside the Bilibid so that he may continue his work as a lay minister.

“Being installed as a lay minister here at Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel, I assist the Bureau chaplain in rendering religious and spiritual services to my fellow detainees,” the letter read.

He said that his experience inside the penitentiary allowed him “to attend church services daily.”


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