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Garcia’s dismissal questioned

By GENALYN D. KABILING

Only Congress has the authority to suspend or remove its members, Malacañang said following the Office of the Ombudsman’s dismissal of House Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia from service.

“While we respect the findings of the Ombudsman based on the merits of the case, only Congress may suspend or remove its members based on the former’s anti-graft and corruption rulings. She cannot arrogate this power of Congress,” Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said.

“Thus, only the House of Representatives, convened in plenary and by a two-thirds vote, can expel Deputy Speaker Garcia from its rolls,” he added.

The Office of the Ombudsman earlier ordered the dismissal of Garcia for grave misconduct in connection with an alleged anomalous property construction contract. It said Garcia violated the country’s laws prohibiting the entry into a contract without the issuance of a certification of appropriation and fund availability.

The dismissal order reportedly carries the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, cancellation of eligibility, and forfeiture of retirement benefits.

Roque however found suspicious the Ombudsman’s decision against Garcia.

He said said it was “unfortunate” that the Ombudsman decision was released “at a time when such actions could be given political color.”

“While we leave the merits of the case to the Ombudsman, the release of the decision could have come at a more circumspect time,” he said.

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