3 February 2011
Reform group Pagbabago! People’s Movement for Change today said that the congressional inquiries on the plea bargain deal between the Ombudsman and former military comptroller Carlos Garcia have given new momentum to go after the corrupt military and civilian officials of the Arroyo administration who plundered the state coffers with impunity.
It added that in the light of the damaging and highly credible testimonies by former state auditor Heidi Mendoza and ex-military budget officer George Rabusa, the Sandiganbayan has no recourse but to junk the anomalous plea bargain agreement.
“Any action to the contrary will only stoke the public outrage over the systemic corruption in the top-most echelons of the armed forces, abetted and covered-up by high government officials including no less than the Commander-in-Chief, Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo”, Pagbabago spokesperson Fr. Joe Dizon said.
Pagbabago issued the statement as the Senate resumes its hearing today on the controversial plea bargain that allowed Garcia to post bail and possibly walk away a free man despite having been charged for plunder (P303 million in government funds) and money laundering.
“Clearly, the crucial first step is to scrap once and for all the plea bargain and prosecute Garcia to the full extent of the law based on strong evidence against him,” said Dizon. He expressed doubt, however, that Ombudsman Gutierrez and justices of the Sandiganbayan Second Division are serious in determining the truth and rendering justice in the Garcia case.
The Catholic priest added that an exhaustive and credible probe on corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), especially during the nine years of the Arroyo regime, must be initiated as soon as possible before the momentum set off by the testimonies of Mendoza and Rabusa dissipates.
“We must not allow the courage and personal sacrifices of Rabusa and Mendoza in the name of truth and accountability go to waste. As a people, we owe it to ourselves to seek justice and put in jail those who have oppressed and exploited us”, Dizon said.
Fr. Joe Dizon
Spokesperson, Pagbabago! People’s Movement for Change