MALACAÑANG said Tuesday only congress had power to suspend House Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia and not Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.
“We respect the decision of Ombudsman Morales to dismiss the Cebu congresswoman for grave misconduct, but [she] should be reminded that only the House of Representatives have the power to suspend her,” Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement.
“While we respect the findings of the Ombudsman based on the merits of the case, only Congress may suspend or remove a member based on the former’s anti-graft and corruption rulings.”
Roque made his statement even as Garcia said she will “exhaust all legal remedies” to challenge the Ombudsman’s order to dismiss her owing to the purchase a piece of property when she was a provincial governor.
“She [Morales] has made it a personal crusade against us Garcias even before, going beyond what is established jurisprudence,” Garcia told a radio interview.
She said the dismissal order was “politically motivated” and that the intention was to discourage her from running for governor in May 2019 elections, or at most to disqualify her from running from any public office.
“She’s calling me guilty of grave misconduct and wants me to be perpetually disqualified from holding public office a few months before the filing of candidacies this October,” Garcia said.
“So that’s another suspicious timing, [because] it seems there are people who would want me to run for governor of Cebu [again].”
Garcia served as Cebu governor from 2004 to 2013, and she may still run for a third term at the House of Representatives in the 2019 elections, being a second-term lawmaker in the 17th Congress.
Roque, a former congressman, said Carpio-Morales may not arrogate the power of Congress unto herself “Only the House of Representatives convened in plenary and by a two-thirds vote can expel Garcia from its rolls,” he said.
Carpio-Morales ordered Garcia’s dismissal over her allegedly questionable purchase of a P98.9-million property when she was the governor of Cebu.
She ordered Garcia’s dismissal for grave misconduct when she allegedly found that she had no authority from the Sanguniang Panlalawigan to enter into contracts with the ABF construction firm.
Roque described the Ombudsman’s order as “unfortunate” and could have been released at a more “circumspect” time.
“It is also unfortunate that the decision of the Ombudsman was released at a time when such actions could be given political color,” Roque said.
“While we leave the merits of the case to the Ombudsman, the release of the decision could have come at a more circumspect time.”