• Senate wants Garcia plea deal junked

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    THE Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on Thursday pushed for the scrapping of the plea bargaining agreement (PBA) entered by former military comptroller Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia with the Office of the Ombudsman.

    Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona 3rd said that based on their investigation, the PBA has no evidentiary basis, thus, it should be scrapped adding that “”there was lack of full restitution in favor of the government and there was lack of consent of the offended party.”

    “I trust that the PBA will ultimately be nullified, and I am confident that transparency, accountability and good governance will prevail,” he added.

    Guingona issued the statement in reaction to the Supreme Court’s issuance of the temporary restraining order against the PBA.

    He said the SC’s decision is an affirmation of the findings of the Blue Ribbon Committee on the PBA entered during the term of former Ombudsman Merce-ditas Gutierrez.

    “As Chairperson of the Blue Ribbon Committee, I stand by our findings that a betrayal of public trust was committed when the plea bargain deal was entered into,” Guingona added.

    For his part, Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, a member of the said committee, said that the SC’s move “sends the correct signal in as far as the battle against graft and corruption is concerned.”

    “The SC decision augurs well for the drive to rid the government of irregularities, primarily within the military establishment which has been identified in a recent Senate probe as a major source of corrupt practices” Escudero added.

    He maintained that, the Sandiganbayan decision on the plea bargain agreement runs counter to the ideals of good governance since it clearly offered a way out for Garcia to account for the estimated P303 million he allegedly misappropriated from the Armed Forces of the Philippines funds.

    Escudero voiced his criticism when the Sandiganbayan decided to uphold the plea bargaining agreement with Garcia in 2010. But Malacañang contested the said agreement.

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