Court of Appeals allows Gwendolyn Garcia to run
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - May 13, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Court of Appeals (CA) has allowed Cebu Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia to pursue her gubernatorial bid in today’s elections.

In a 23-page decision promulgated on Friday, a special division of the appellate court reversed a ruling handed down by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2017, dismissing Garcia from service.

Aside from dismissal, the ombudsman perpetually disqualified Garcia from holding public office.

The ruling stemmed from the provincial government’s allegedly anomalous purchase of a property when Garcia was governor in 2012.

The CA granted a petition of Garcia assailing the ombudsman ruling that found her guilty of grave misconduct.

Voting 3-2, the appellate court said the ombudsman violated Garcia’s right to a speedy disposition of her case.

It said it took the ombudsman two and a half years to resolve the case.

“A delay of 2 and a half years is unreasonable and unjustifiable, especially in the light of the (ombudsman’s) mandate to prioritize cases filed against a high ranking official (like Garcia),”
read the ruling penned by Associate Justice Dorothy Montejo-Gonzaga.

The complaint against Garcia and 10 other provincial officials was filed in 2012 by Gov. Hilario Davide III and two other complainants after she ordered the filling of the submerged portion of a government property without approval from the provincial board.

The CA said Garcia was liable only for simple misconduct, which carries a penalty of six months suspension.

It said the ombudsman failed to prove that Garcia intended to gain benefit for herself or for other persons when she entered into a contract with a private firm for the filling of the property without the board’s approval. 

The CA said the ombudsman erred in ruling that Garcia could not invoke the condonation doctrine in her case.

It said the administrative liability of Garcia during her term as governor from 2010 to 2013 was condoned with her election as congresswoman in 2013.

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