Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Monday said he would not implement the dismissal order of the Ombudsman against Deputy Speaker and Cebu Representative Gwendolyn Garcia, saying that there is no "legal basis" for him to do so.
In a phone interview with reporters, Alvarez said there is nothing in the Constitution that allows him to implement the action ordered by the Ombudsman.
"In fact, it is not within the power of the Ombudsman to discipline, much more to remove, any member of the House of Representatives," he said.
"So pag ginawa ko yan, I will be violating the Constitution since merong nakalagay sa Constitution na kami lang yung may kapangyarihan to discipline and remove any member from the House of Representatives," he added.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has ordered Garcia's dismissal from service in over grave misconduct in connection with the controversial purchase of Balili property while she was the province's governor.
But for Alvarez, the dismissal order should have been issued while she was governor, not while she is congresswoman.
"Yung dismissal order na yan, ang treatment ko diyan, yung dismissal as a governor, not as a congressman. Late yung decision, late yung order, dapat noon pa nilabas yan nung siya ay isang gobernador pa lang," he said.
Garcia questioned the timing of the issuance of the dismissal order.
"It does seem as though the Ombudsman has singled me out on an act that was done when I was still governor several years ago," Garcia told reporters in an ambush interview.
"You'd rather wonder whether this was purposely done precisely because as you saw, I am very active in this impeachment hearing against Chief Justice [Maria Lourdes] Sereno," she added.
But this speculation does not matter to Alvarez, he said.
"Ang sa akin lang, yung basehan lang, legal basis lang. And kung merong legal basis yan base sa ating Saligang Batas, gagawin ko yan. Pero kung wala naman, I will not," he added.
Given its lack of legal basis, Alvarez said they will no longer discuss the order in the plenary.
"Of course not. Bakit naman pagkaabalahan natin yang walang legal basis?" he said.
Garcia is facing a graft and malversation case in connection with the purchase of the 24.92-hectare Balili property in Tiga-an, Naga Cebu in 2008 for Cebu’s human settlement and seaport project.
The lawmaker, who was then serving as provincial governor, supposedly allowed the purchase of the beachfront lot.
It was later found out in a land survey conducted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) that 19.67 hectares of the property was submerged in water and were unfit for the intended projects. — RSJ, GMA News