OMBUDSMAN Conchita Carpio-Morales assured the Supreme Court that she is backing the move of the Office of the Ombudsman to junk the plea bargaining agreement former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez entered with retired Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia.
In a nine-page manifestation a copy of which is available at the Sandiganbayan, Morales told the Court that she is not going against the move of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) who also asked that the plea deal be scrapped.
“The Office of the Ombudsman by present Ombudsman Morales, hereby manifests that, in lieu of filing [an]opposition, it adopts in to to the allegations of the petition [of the OSG],” the prayer read.
She said in a personal appeal to the High Court that the Sandiganbayan’s decision in upholding the plea deal ran counter to her position, which she stated in a position paper filed before the anti-graft court.
In a clarificatory hearing, Ombudsman representative lawyer Christian Uy said that Morales’ position paper is a mere “expression of her views” that should not be considered as a motion.
For this, the Sandiganbayan merely “noted” the position paper and did not give it credence when the anti-graft court magistrates tackled the plea bargain.
Morales this time expounded her position and rectified the pronouncement of her representative.
“[I] impugned and repudiated the plea bargaining agreement as well as defended the authority of the OSG to intervene and render assistance in the subject criminal proceedings,” Morales said.
She quoted the dissenting opinion of Associate Justice Oscar Herrera Jr., the lone dissenter in the plea bargaining resolution, that “the prosecution effectively withdrawn its conformity to the [agreement]and its consent to accused Garcia’s change of plea.”
The former jurist also clarified that she did not participate in the drafting of her office’ agreement with Garcia as she only led the anti-graft agency long after the deal was struck.
She added that when she reviewed the records of the Sandiganbayan, especially the allegation of that the plunder case was weak, she concluded that the prosecution-defense agreement was “prematurely made.”
“The prosecution had not yet at that time [of alleging that the plunder case is weak]rested its case,” the manifestation read.
Morales added that there were “several irregularities” in the plea deal that resulted in the merit of OSG’s intervention in the proceedings.
She added in closing that her office will not get in the way of the OSG to stop the plea bargaining agreement, and instead support the move of the state’s law firm.