MALACANANG reminded Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales that she “cannot arrogate the power of Congress” to dismiss Cebu City Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia from her post, Malacanang said on Monday night.
The Palace statement came after Morales ordered the dismissal of Garcia, concurrent deputy speaker, whom she found administratively liable for grave misconduct over a five-year-old case when she was still Cebu governor.
“While we respect the findings of the Ombudsman based on the merits of the case, only Congress may suspend or remove its members based on the former’s anti-graft and corruption rulings. She cannot arrogate this power of Congress,” Palace spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement.
Roque said that only the House of Representatives convened in plenary and by a two-thirds vote could dismiss Garcia from her post.
“It is also unfortunate that the decision of the Ombudsman was released at a time when such actions could be given political color. While we leave the merits of the case to the Ombudsman, the release of the decision could have come at a more circumspect time,” Roque said.
Roque and Garcia supported the impeachment case against then-Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Juan Andres Bautista who resigned in 2017.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said that he would not implement the order of the Ombudsman because he would be violating the Constitution if he did.
“There is nothing in the Constitution that allows me to do that. In fact, it is not within the power of the Ombudsman to discipline, much more to remove any member of the House of Representatives,” Alvarez said.
“[I]f I do that, I will be violating the Constitution since the Constitution provides that it is only us who have the power to discipline and remove a member of the House of Representatives,” Alvarez added.
In the ruling, Morales said that then-Governor Garcia was not authorized to enter into a contract with ABF Construction “for the supply and delivery of backfilling materials and other incidentals of” the Balili property’s “submerged and mangrove portions.” RALPH EDWIN U. VILLANUEVA