From military deputy chief for comptrollership to convict, the journey has been a long one for retired Maj. Gen. Carlos F. Garcia. The highest ranking military officer to be indicted for a criminal offense, Garcia nearly managed to retire in peace in 2004, with his colleagues in the Armed Forces of the Philippines seemingly reluctant to go after a two-star general on accusations of corruption. But the Ombudsman at the time, Simeon Marcelo, doggedly worked to pin down Garcia. In the end, Garcia was court-martialed and faced several criminal cases before the Sandiganbayan.
Yesterday, over five years after Garcia’s son was apprehended by US Customs authorities at the San Francisco airport for failure to declare $100,000 in cash, the disgraced general was convicted of perjury by the anti-graft court. Though the maximum sentence of two years was less than the time Garcia has already spent in detention, the conviction for failure to declare P7 million in his account with the AFP Savings and Loan Association Inc. could strengthen the bigger case against him for forfeiture of undeclared wealth.
Garcia was indicted over a year after junior military officers staged a curious mutiny in a posh Makati hotel to denounce, among other things, corruption in the AFP. Garcia’s court-martial was complemented by a major overhaul of the procurement process in the AFP and Department of National Defense. Under the reform program, red tape was cut and transparency in bidding and procurement promoted. The AFP and DND must not go back on those reforms and must in fact work to strengthen them.
In December 2005, a military court found Garcia guilty of undeclared wealth. He was dishonorably dismissed from the AFP and sentenced to two years of hard labor. The Sandiganbayan, for its part, must speed up its resolution of the other cases against Garcia. The two-star general found himself in trouble after his wife Clarita, coming to the defense of their son, explained in writing to US Customs authorities that the $100,000 came from her husband’s miscellaneous earnings as a comptroller. This is one of the rare cases where efficient prosecution has led to the conviction of a big fish. With more cases like this one, crooks in government may finally realize that in this country, not everyone can get away with crime.
Updated February 19, 2009 12:00 AM
First, Martial Law closed down my newspaper, the original Manila Times, in 1972. Twelve years later, the Central Bank closed down my bank, Banco Filipino, in 1984.
Today, as the big bad wolf answering to the name of Global Crisis waits to gobble up the world’s economies, the successor of the Central Bank has assured us that we’re better off than many other countries. It sounds like Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas is talking trust and confidence. It sounds like BSP stands on solid ground. Does it sound like BSP will bow to the Supreme Court and strengthen our faith in the justice system as well as in the ability of our banking system to withstand the shocks of the financial meltdown?
After 25 years of an arduous battle, the High Court has ruled that BSP is the same as CB and therefore must pay BF what it owes in damages for its “arbitrary” closure in 1984. From 92 branches then, it is down to 64, after it was reopened in 1994. From being the biggest savings bank for small people – 3 million of them — its depositors now number fewer than 300,000.
Here is a golden opportunity for Bangko Sentral to show that not only does it have money in these wobbly times – what a boost to the market as a confidence builder – but also to manifest its submission to the will of the highest court, the court of last resort. BF claims that BSP should pay P18.8 billion in damages plus 12 percent annual interest, the amount arrived at by a numbers cruncher affiliated with the Asian Institute of Management.
Does BSP have that kind of money? Gov. Amando Tetangco, whose smart, good-looking wife is the daughter of a justice, could do us all a world and a wealth of good by complying with the Supreme Court’s finding that after “a long delay” – 10 years between closing and reopening — it is time for the private bank to be given “full and complete relief.”
Author: Jullie Yap Daza