Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has approved the filing of charges against Cebu Governor Gwedolyn Garcia in connection with the purchase of submerged land that was part of the Balili property that was bought by the provincial government for 98.9 million pesos. Garcia was charged with two counts of graft and one count of technical malversation before the Sandiganbayan. Also charged with one count of graft were: former Provincial Board member Juan Bolo, ex-chairman of the Cebu Provincial Appraisal Committee (CPAC) and Provincial Assessor Anthony Sususco, CPAC members Roy Salubre and Eulogio Pelayre, former provincial budget officer Emme Gingoyon, and Amparo and Romeo Balili.
The Balili property is located at Tinaan, Naga City. The 25 hectare property has large portions that are submerged under seawater. Based on the complaint the Ombudsman accused the respondents of “committing the offense (graft) in relation to their respective offices, while in the performance of their functions and taking advantage of their positions, with manifest parliamentary and evident bad faith, acting together, conspiring and confederating with one another and with Amparo Balili and Romeo Balili, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and criminally cause undue injury to the government in the amount of ninety eight million nine hundred twenty six thousand eight hundred pesos….Consequently giving Amparo Balili and the estate of Luis Balili unwarranted benefits in the same amount when Garcia entered into a Memorandum of Agreement dated 21 April 2008, for and on behalf of the Province of Cebu, with Amparo Balili and the estate of Luis Balili, represented by Romeo Balili, for the purpose of a portion of the Balili Estate with a total area of 249,246 square meters.”
A bail of P30,000 was set for each charge.
Governor Gwen Garcia is part of the Garcia clan that is well-known to be big allies of ex-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. She is one of the potential candidates for senator under Vice-president Jejomar Binay’s United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) in the May 2013 elections. She will deliver her final state of the province (SOPA) address today after serving as Cebu’s governor for nine years. She apologized for the fiasco in the press conference 3 years ago.
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