Garcia, a deputy speaker, was found guilty of grave misconduct and slapped with the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, forfeiture of retirement benefits and cancellation of civil service eligibility.
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Gwen Garcia dismissed for grave misconduct
Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - February 13, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines —  The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the dismissal of Cebu City third district Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia over the provincial government’s alleged anomalous purchase of a property when she was governor.

In a decision released yesterday, the ombudsman directed Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to implement the dismissal order.

Garcia, a deputy speaker, was found guilty of grave misconduct and slapped with the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, forfeiture of retirement benefits and cancellation of civil service eligibility.

The order stemmed from the purchase of a 24.92-hectare property in Barangay Tiga-an, Naga, Cebu worth P98,926,800 in June 2008 for the provincial government’s housing and seaport projects.

Garcia is facing two counts of graft and technical malversation before the Sandiganbayan in connection with the case.

Investigation showed that 19.67 hectares of the property were submerged in water and not suitable for human settlement and the construction of an international seaport.

The ombudsman said Garcia had no authority from the provincial board when she entered into contracts with ABF Construction for the supply and delivery of backfilling materials and other incidentals for the property’s submerged and mangrove portions. The supply contracts are worth P24,468,927.

Garcia violated certain provisions of the Administrative Code and Government Auditing Code, which prohibit public officials from entering into a contract without a certification of appropriation and fund availability, the ombudsman said.

“It was undisputed that the (certification of available funds) was issued only after the second contract was entered into by Garcia,” the court ruling stated.

Garcia’s co-accused, former provincial accountant Emmanuel Guial, was found guilty of simple neglect of duty for certifying that the supporting documents for the contracts were complete even though there was no authority from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. He was ordered suspended for three months. Since he is no longer in office, the penalty is convertible to a fine equivalent to his salary for three months.

GWEN GARCIA PANTALEON ALVAREZ
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