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Removal of Sandiganbayan justices in Garcia plea bargain pushed

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Removal of Sandiganbayan justices in Garcia plea bargain pushed

 “It sends the message that it is okay to steal the people’s money for as long as you admit your crime when caught and just return a small amount from what you stole.” – Pagbabago

By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL and INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – The immoral and unpatriotic act of the Sandiganbayan justices must be condemned.

This was the reaction of Pagbabago! People’s Movement for Change spokesman Fr. Joe Dizon, to the approval by the Sandiganbayan of the plea bargain agreement with retired AFP comptroller Major General Carlos Garcia last Monday, May 9.

The Sandiganbayan Second Division approved Garcia’s plea bargain, saying that the evidence against him was weak. And that Garcia had “complied with its conditions –pleading guilty to lesser offenses of direct bribery and facilitating money laundering, and transferring P135.433 million ($3.14 million) of his and his family’s assets to the state.”

It will be remembered that Garcia and former Ombudsman Ma. Merceditas Navarro-Gutierrez struck a plea bargain agreement wherein the government commits to withdraw plunder charges in exchange for a guilty plea for the lesser offense of direct bribery. Because of the deal submitted to the Sandiganbayan for approval, Garcia was allowed to walk out of his Camp Crame detention cell after posting a bail of P60,000 ($1,395) on December 18 last year, two days after he pleaded guilty to direct bribery during his re-arraignment for that lesser offense.

Lawmakers actively involved in the congressional investigations into Garcia’s case are also vehement in their protest against the Sandigabayan decision. They said that the Sandiganbayan violated its Constitutional mandate.

“The Constitution mandated the Sandiganbayan to give life to the fundamental principle that public office is a public trust, through the prosecution of civil and criminal cases involving graft and corrupt practices and other offenses committed by public officers. Sandiganbayan Second Division unanimously, but suspiciously and hastily, approved the plea bargain agreement. It previously denied Garcia’s petition for bail on the charge of plunder, thereby declaring that the evidence of guilt was strong. In a turn-around, however, it justified its latest decision to approve the plea bargain by declaring that the prosecution’s evidence was weak. This decision is prejudicial to the interest of the Filipino people,” Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino said.

Progressive lawmakers condemn the Sandiganbayan decision upholding the plea bargain agreement with Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia.(Photo by Ina Alleco R. Silverio / bulatlat.com)
Casino and other lawmakers in the progressive bloc of the Makabayan Coalition — Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano, the two Gabriela Reps. Luz Ilagan and Emmi de Jesus, Kabataan Rep. Raymond Palatino, and Alliance of Concerned Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio — are calling for the resignation of Sandiganbayan justices. namely Presiding Justice Edilberto Sandoval, Justice Teresita Diaz Baldoz and Justice Samuel Martirez.

‘Sandiganbayan justices should resign’

“The Sandiganbayan justices have betrayed their mandate to give life and meaning to the constitutional precept that a public office is a public trust and to impress upon public officers and employees that they are at all times accountable to the people with their duty to serve with the highest degree of responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency,” the lawmakers said..... MORE

SourceBulatlat.com

URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/05/13/groups-call-for-removal-of-sandiganbayan-justices-who-approved-plea-bargain-with-garcia/

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