Sunday 24 March, 2019
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CA denies Gwen Garcia’s TRO plea on removal from office

The Court of Appeals (CA) has denied the plea of Cebu 3rd District Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia for a temporary restraining order (TRO) to stop her removal from office.

In a recent resolution, the CA 19th Division said Garcia “failed to illustrate [her] right and any violation against such right that warrants this court’s protection.”

The court rejected Garcia’s argument that her dismissal would deprive her of the means to serve her constituents “who reposed much respect and trust in her.”

The CA case would continue, but without the assurance of a court order to officially stay the enforcement of the Ombudsman’s dismissal order. This put Garcia at the mercy of the House leadership, which had so far refused to enforce the order.

The Ombudsman in February announced Garcia’s dismissal for the administrative offense of grave misconduct in connection with a P24.47-million project to backfill the largely underwater Balili property when she was still the provincial governor.

She allegedly failed to secure the authorization of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, or point out the corresponding appropriation, when she entered into contracts with ABP Construction in April 2012.

But, the House of Representatives under the leadership of then-Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez refused to enforce Garcia’s dismissal, arguing that only the legislature had the power to discipline its own members.

Garcia also delivered a privilege speech calling on her colleagues not to allow “an illegal encroachment on what is constitutional and statutory the exclusive domain of this House.”

She noted that Section 21 of the Ombudsman Act of 1989 specifically exempted “members of Congress” from its disciplinary authority.

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