Gov’t wants Garcia family extradited

- Sandy  Araneta () - September 27, 2007 - 12:00am

Government prosecutors will ask the United States for the extradition of a family member of former military comptroller Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia believed to be in the United States.

In an interview at the Sandiganbayan, Special Prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio said that a son of Garcia left the Philippines after the former military officer was implicated in a P303-million plunder case.

Other family members of Garcia are also said to be in hiding. Villa-Ignacio declined to state where they are, saying such information cannot be disclosed since they might leave or go to another country.

“People from the US whom we have asked over to testify against Garcia, have informed us that they are very willing to bring in these people. They have also expressed willingness to look for the children of Gen. Garcia in the United States. They already have an idea where one is. But we cannot tell the public (where they are),” said Villa-Ignacio.

“The US authorities have informed us to track down the family of Gen. Garcia. We might request for an extradition. If the whereabouts of the family could be established in the States, we will request agencies to initiate extradition proceedings,” Villa-Ignacio said.

Villa-Ignacio added that some of the family members might still be here in the Philippines.

“Hopefully they are still here, because it would be easier to track them down,” he said.

“We would like to have a conviction as well in the Garcia case, involving also a very high military officer. We have proven already that we could do it in the civilian sector,” citing the case of former President Joseph Estrada who was convicted for plunder and sentenced to 40 years imprisonment.

“So we will take this opportunity to really work hard on the Garcia cases. The target has to be set. A lawyer must also put deadlines. We hope to resolve one case, the forfeiture case involving P144 million,” he said.

Villa-Ignacio said that there might be a decision on the P144-million forfeiture case against Garcia within the year.

He also said the plunder case is ongoing.

“We really have to see the number of witnesses and documents yet (on the plunder case). The pre-trial and presentation is still in the States, listing, marking of documents. No idea yet when this will be resolved,” he said.

The lawyers of the wife and children of Garcia, who is facing plunder charges at the Sandiganbayan Second Division, earlier asked the Sandiganbayan to approve their withdrawal of representation for Garcia’s family as they have already lost contact with them.

Lawyers Rainier Madrid and Alvin Carullo said that they could no longer effectively handle the defense of Garcia’s wife Clarita Depakakibo-Garcia, and their children Ian Carl, Juan Paulo and Timothy Mark Garcia because their whereabouts could not be established.

The lawyers said they have failed to locate Garcia’s wife and children, who disappeared shortly after they were indicted for plunder in 2005.

Garcia was charged with plunder for allegedly amassing P303.27 million during his active service in the military. He is also facing perjury charges and forfeiture case involving his ill-gotten wealth.

His wife and children were included in the charges for allegedly helping him conceal his ill-gotten wealth.

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