AFP hands off on former General Garcia case
THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) yesterday took a hands-off policy on the case of its former comptroller, retired Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia, who was freed over the weekend after spending six years in a Camp Crame jail.
Garcia, who was accused of amassing wealth while still in the military service, was freed last Saturday after striking a deal with the Office of the Ombudsman, which was pursuing the plunder charges against him before the Sandiganbayan.
AFP chief Gen. Ricardo David Jr. said the case of the former military comptroller, who was dishonorably dismissed from the military service in 2005, is no longer under the military jurisdiction.
“The case of General Garcia is a matter of the civilian court… it’s no longer AFP versus Garcia, it’s ‘People of the Philippines versus Garcia,’” David told defense reporters in a chance interview in Camp Aguinaldo.
The AFP chief added that the funds, which the former military comptroller allegedly plundered, belong to the Philippines and not to the AFP, which only acted as the caretaker of the funds.
“That is government funds, that’s why I’m telling them here, our funds are not AFP funds; these are government funds. These are taxpayers money…. and the aggrieved ones here is the Filipino people,” David said.
Garcia, who is a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1971, was the highest ranking military officer to be accused and tried for plunder charges before the Sandiganbayan.
A month before his retirement from the military service in 2004, Garcia was arrested and detained by the AFP after charges of violating the Articles of War were lodged against him before the military’s Judge Advocate’s Generals Office (JAGO).
In December 2005, a military tribunal sentenced him with a two-year imprisonment with hard labor and ordered his dishonorable dismissal from the military service after finding him guilty of violating the AW for misdeclaring his statement of assets and liabilities.
The former military comptroller has entered a guilty plea to direct bribery and section 4-B of the Anti-Money Laundering Act before the Sandiganbayan, but pleaded not guilty on plunder charges. Anthony Vargas