Garcia Son’s Lawyer Calls Actions Of PH Gov’t “Outrageous”

by Joseph G. Lariosa

Carlos Garcia, former armed forces procurement chief, at a congressional hearing in Manila 18 October 2004. FILE PHOTOCHICAGO (jGLi) – In separate filings over the summer in various courts, the wife and children of Gen. Carlos Garcia were looking forward to the resolution of General Garcia’s plunder case after a “guilty plea was negotiated in the Philippines, however a change in the political decision makers has resulted in the criminal case not yet being resolved.”

And the recent action of the Philippine government is not sitting well either with one of the lawyers of Garcia’s son.

Richard A. Tamor, a Filipino American lawyer, representing Ian Carl Garcia, both in the extradition and smuggling cases, told this reporter in an email that, “My client will have no comment (on the latest developments of plunder case). But I will say that the recent actions by the Philippine government are outrageous and an affront to fundamental notions of fairness and justice.”

Mr. Tamor was referring to the omnibus motion filed last week by Philippine prosecutors, asking the Sandiganbayan to issue an order directing the Department of Foreign Affairs to serve the summonses on Garcia’s wife Clarita and sons at their last known addresses—Park Avenue in New York (Timothy Mark Garcia), Rainbow Boulevard in Las Vegas (Ian Carl Garcia), and Pebble Beach Dr. Pontiac in Michigan (Clarita and Juan Paulo Garcia).

The lawyers for the children and wife of General Garcia were initially hopeful that the plea deal struck by the General with the Ombudsman under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo administration last year would sail smoothly with the Sandiganbayan that would lead to the dismissal of the pending extradition cases in the U.S. against his family members.

But everything fell apart when the new administration of President Noynoy Aquino came to power and raised doubts over the validity of the plea deal.

In an order last July 11, 2011, United States District Judge George Caram Steeh of the Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit approved the continuance of the status conference “for approximately 120 days,” which falls on Oct. 26, 2011 at 2 p.m., on the extradition case pending against Clarita Depakakibo Garcia.

FORFEITURE CASES PENDING VS. MOTHER AND SON

On the other hand, the forfeiture actions against Mrs. Garcia and her son, Timothy Garcia, remain “pending in the Southern District of New York with a resolution contingent on withdrawal of the deportation proceedings in the United States.”

In a letter to U.S District Court Judge Richard J. Holwell of the Southern District of New York in New York, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lisa P. Korologos and Danel P. Chung on May 26, 2011 on behalf of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara informed the court that on Dec. 3, 2009, Timothy and Clarita Garcia have agreed to “waive any and all claims and interests in the real property that is the subject of action as well as certain bank account funds” only if the Philippine government will withdraw their extradition.

But the withdrawal “is contingent on the acceptance by the Sandiganbayan of a guilty plea of General Carlos Garcia, their co-defendant in that case.”

General Garcia pled guilty on March 16, 2010 and Clarita and Timothy Garcia postponed in signing the stipulation and order as the extradition requests have not been withdrawn formally by the Philippine government despite the “acceptance by the Sandiganbayan in a 157-page decision” of General Garcia’s guilty plea.

The U.S. prosecutors advised the court they are going to inform the court of the “update last June 10, 2011” but as of presstime, the court has yet to hear from the prosecutors nor from Timothy Garcia’s counsel James Kousouros.

TO BE RESOLVED IN 6-12 MONTHS

Meanwhile, an order and stipulation issued by U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy J. Bommer of the Northern District of California moved the status conference of the extradition case against Ian Carl and Juan Paolo Garcia from July 12, 2011 to Dec. 5, 2011 at 9:30 a.m.

Mr. Tamor and Julia Mezhinsky Jayne, lawyer for Juan Paolo Garcia, had earlier told the court that it is the “counsel’s belief that a resolution of the Plunder prosecution in the Philippines giving rise to this extradition matter will be resolved in the next 6-12 months.
“General Garcia has already executed the Settlement Agreement in the Republic of the Philippines, and is only awaiting sentencing. Due to various political matters in the Philippines, his sentencing has been repeatedly continued.
“Once that final step is concluded, the defense and the Government expect that the Republic of the Philippines will drop its extradition demand against the defendants.

“Accordingly, the parties request a lengthy continuance of the pending matter, since it is expected that nothing can occur before this Court until General Garcia’s matter is fully concluded. The parties hope that by December of this year, the matter will be resolved and the extradition matter before this Court dismissed.”

It will not to be. New Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales under the Aquino Administration has contested the plea deal Garcia struck with Arroyo Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez that allowed Garcia to plead guilty to a lesser offenses of direct bribery and money laundering instead of plunder and return of 130-Million pesos (US$3-M) of the more than 300-Million pesos (US$7-M) he allegedly stole.

The deal allowed Garcia to post bail.

While Garcia was enjoying his temporary freedom, he was arrested two weeks ago and detained at the New Bilibid Prison in Metro Manila, serving a two-year sentence after being convicted by a military court in December 2005 of violation of Articles of War for underdeclaring his assets and holding a “green card” (or permanent-resident status) in the United States. (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

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