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AFP arrests ex-comptroller Major General Carlos Garcia

September 16, 2011 10:07am
(Updated 4 p.m.) Armed Forces chief General Eduardo Oban on Friday said former AFP comptroller Maj. Gen. Carlos Gacia, convicted by a general court martial for violating two articles of the Articles of War in 2005, has been taken into military custody.

"This morning [Friday], we effected the implementation of a [court martial] order... and he was taken to the Intelligence Service of the AFP compound where he will be detained," Oban told reporters.

In December last year, Garcia got his temporary freedom when he was allowed to post a P60,000-bail after pleading to lesser offenses of facilitation of money laundering and direct bribery, instead of plunder.

In May this year, the Sandiganbayan approved the plea bargaining agreement of Garcia with the Office of the Ombudsman, which allowed him to plead guilty to two lesser offenses and to post bail despite a P303-million plunder case filed against him.

ISAFP detention then Bilibid

In an interview on dzBB, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Garcia was arrested at 8:30 a.m. in his residence in Quezon City. Garcia did not resist arrest.

Garcia, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1971, was initially detained at the ISAFP compound inside Camp Aguinaldo.

Around 2 p.m., he was transferred to the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City escorted by government forces.

"The NBP will be the one to execute the two-year in prison sentence (on Garcia)," said military information chief Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said it was President Benigno Aquino III, as commander-in-chief of the military and police, who ordered the transfer of Garcia to the NBP.

On Dec. 2, 2005, the court martial found Garcia guilty of violating Articles of War 96, or conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman; and Articles of War 97, or conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline.

The charges stemmed from Garcia's alleged mis-declaration of his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth for 2002 and 2003 and for possession of US permanent resident status even though he was still in the active service. Garcia ended his military career in November 2004.

The charges are distinct from the ones filed against Garcia before the Sandiganbayan.

According to Oban, Garcia was sentenced to two years in prison with hard labor and discharge from service, and that the sentence was approved on September 9 by President Aquino.

Gazmin said the conviction was forwarded to the Office of the President for confirmation but "it was never confirmed then."

"So nung naipakita kay Pangulong Aquino yung mga papeles na ito'y hindi naconfirm, in other words it was not served... So ito ngayon ang aming [ipinatupad] dahil na-confirm na ng presidente...," he said.

Asked why the court martial decision was not acted on during the previous administration, Gazmin said: "Yung tanong na yan 'di ko masasagot."

Full sentence

Meanwhile, AFP judge advocate general Brig. Gen Gilberto Roa said Garcia will still serve the full two-year term of his sentence because of the failure of the previous administration to act on his case.

According to Roa, the president has the power to “mitigate" (lessen) Garcia’s sentence or to “remit" it (to credit against his sentence the time he served under preventive suspension during trial).

But in this case, the president did not exercise such power.

Under the military justice system, all decisions by a general court martial would be forwarded to the chief of staff and eventually for approval by the president, who is the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces and the National Police. — LBG/RSJ, GMA News
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