A spokesperson for Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno slammed Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia for linking the former in the ombudsman's decision to dismiss the latter from service for grave misconduct over the multi-million property she purchased in 2008. AJ Bolando, File

Sereno camp denies hand in Rep. Gwen Garcia's dismissal
Kristine Joy Patag (philstar.com) - February 14, 2018 - 3:48pm
MANILA, Philippines — Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno's camp said she has nothing to do with the Office of the Ombudsman's dismissal of Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia (Cebu) over the "[misuse] of public funds to buy a property submerged in the sea."
 
Lawyer Jojo Lacalinao, one of the spokespersons of Sereno, slammed Garcia for linking the chief justice in the ombudsman's decision.
 
"Rep. Garcia was sacked from office for her questionable purchase of a P98.9-million underwater property when she was governor of Cebu without the authority of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan," Lacanilao said in a statement on Wednesday.
 
"These are the facts of the case and these were the bases of the Ombudsman's decision," Lacanilao stressed.
 
 
The ombudsman, an independent office, issued the dismissal order against the Cebu representative on Monday. The order was made public as the House of Representatives Committee on Justice held its 13th hearing on the impeachment case against Sereno. 
 
Garcia, upon learning the dismissal order, cried that she was being "singled out" by the ombudsman.
 
She surmised that her "active" participation in the impeachment proceeding against the chief justice has something to do with the suspicious timing of the dismissal order.
 
 
But Lacanilao reminded Garcia that the Office of the Ombudsman has its own processes and makes decisions "free from outside control or influence."
 
"It is unfortunate that Rep. Garcia is using the ongoing impeachment hearing as an excuse, albeit shallow, for her dismissal from government service and perpetual disqualification from public office rather than check the laws of the land on graft and corruption," the lawyer said.
 
Lacanilao lamented that the "real tragedy" is the refusal of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to enforce the ombudsman's dismissal order. He also pointed out that it seems that Garcia is "enjoying... special treatment" from Alvarez.
 
 
Following the ombudsman's dismissal, Alvarez said that the House would not enforce the order as the Constitution does not allow it. He added that "it is not within the power of the Ombudsman to discipline, much more to remove any member of the House of Representatives."
 
This, despite Article XI, Section 13(3) of the 1987 Constitution that provides that the ombudsman shall have the power to "direct the officer concerned to take appropriate action against a public official or employee at fault, and recommended his removal, suspension, demotion, fine, censure, or prosecution, and ensure compliance therewith."
 
Malacañang also backed the House speaker's statement as presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that "only Congress may suspend or remove its members based on the [Ombudsman's] anti-graft and corruption rulings."

GRAVE MISCONDUCT GWENDOLYN GARCIA MARIA LOURDES SERENO OMBUDSMAN
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