Trial on Balili graft charges to continue
THE Sandiganbayan has denied the motion of former governor, now third district representative Gwendolyn Garcia to dismiss the criminal charges against her in connection with the purchase of the Balili property in Naga City.
Garcia’s motion to dismiss the charges was based on ‘inordinate delay’ by the prosecution to prosecute the case, saying the case has gone on for six years and the prosecution has only presented five of its 78 witnesses.
According to Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III, there was no basis for Garcia’s motion, saying it was only natural that the trial of the case would take long because of the number of witnesses to be presented and the motions filed by Garcia’s lawyers which needed to be resolved by the graft court.
The Office of Ombudsman in 2012 charged Garcia with two counts of graft and one count of illegal use of public funds over the purchase of the controversial Balili property in Tinaan, Naga City in 2008 which was later found to be “largely underwater.”
“It’s good that the case is moving. Dugay na nang kasoha. Di man [inordinate delay] kay part of the process man na ang investigation. A part of it is naa man pod silay mga motion nga gifile ug di ra man pod iyang kaso ang giatiman sa Sandiganbayan,” Davide said on Wednesday.
Garcia, in a text reply sent to Cebu Daily News, said they are considering other legal remedies with the dismissal of their motion to dismiss.
Meanwhile, the Office of the Special Prosecutor – an attached department of the Office of the Ombudsman, will conduct a case conference in Cebu next week, said Davide.
Vice Governor Agnes Magpale, who was then a board member when the property was purchased by the provincial government, was also invited to a case conference of Sandiganbayan last November 12 and 13.
However, Magpale said there were inquiries that were beyond her capability to answer and should be answered by the proper officials involved in the purchase.
The case conference in Cebu is set on November 26 to 29 when the prosecutors will get the judicial affidavits of the other witnesses, particularly those who were involved in the purchase.
The next hearing of the graft and malversation charges against Garcia is scheduled in January 2019.
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