SC: Palace right to dismiss ex-military comptroller Garcia from service
The Supreme Court has upheld a Malacañang decision confirming the sentence handed down by a court martial against former military comptroller Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia for failing to disclose the full extent of his assets.
The Office of the President did not commit grave abuse of discretion when it issued a "confirmation of sentence" against Garcia, the SC Third Division said in a ruling signed by Justice Diosdado Peralta.
Garcia was dishonorably discharged from service – all his pay and allowances forfeited – and was given a two-year confinement in a penitentiary.
The high court also noted Garcia's six-year confinement in military and police camps should be credited to his sentence.
"Applying the provisions of Article 29 of the Revised Penal Code, the time within which the petitioner was under preventive confinement should be credited to the sentence confirmed by the Office of the President, subject to the conditions set forth by the same law," the decision read.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines General Court Martial has jurisdiction over Garcia even if he retired from the service on Nov. 18, 2004, according to the SC, adding that he was in active service when the crime was committed.
President Benigno Aquino III, as commander-in-chief of the AFP, also has jurisdiction over the case as mandated under Article 47 of the Articles of War. The succeeding Article 48 gives the President the authority to approve or disapprove a sentence or parts of it issued by a court martial.
Garcia was convicted of violating Article 96 of the Articles of War (Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and Gentleman) and Article 97 (Conduct Prejudicial to Good Order and Military Discipline) for failing to disclose all his assets in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net worth in 2003.
Garcia contested the confirmation of sentence that pertains to his two-year imprisonment at the national penitentiary, insisting he had fully served his sentence during his preventive confinement of six years and two months starting Oct. 13, 2004.
Garcia was initially restricted to quarters at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City before he was transferred to the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Detention Center and eventually to the Camp Crame Custodial Detention Center across Camp Aguinaldo.
The high court found no merit in Garcia's claim he was denied a speedy trial, saying the case was decided upon by the court martial and reviewed by proper authorities "without any delay."
As for the President’s confirmation, which came some six years after the court martial came out with its ruling, the high court said Garcia did not show "any positive action to assert his right to speedy trial." — VS, GMA News
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