SandiganBayan decision Approving the Garcia Plea Bargain Deal

Statement of Former AKbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros on the SandiganBayan decision Approving the Garcia Plea Bargain Deal

We in Akbayan express our extreme disappointment over the decision of the SandiganBayan to approve the plea bargain deal that the Office of the Ombudsman entered into with former military comptroller Carlos Garcia.

At a time when different anti-corruption advocates are relishing their initial victory in the war against corruption, and at a time when the nation is trying to enjoy the first day of a “Merci-less” Office of the Ombudsman, the decision of the anti-graft court to allow a lopsided deal crafted under the tenure of former Ombudsman Merciditas Gutierrez is a step in the wrong direction. Instead of removing obstacles, it creates more barriers as well as exit points for corrupt public officials to evade accountability.

Moreover, the anti-graft court’s decision is distressing since it is a major setback in the fight against corruption as it virtually elevates an obviously one-sided and erroneous agreement to the level of legitimacy and it clears not only Garcia of any wrongdoing but also those who designed the faulty agreement at the Office of the Ombudsman. It is also flawed for the reason that how could the SandiganBayan approve the said deal, the very same agreement that even its crafters under the term of Gutierrez sought to reverse after they lost face at the Senate of the Philippines, which exposed the deal as faulty and detrimental to the people’s interest?

As such, we urge the SandiganBayan to immediately reverse this patently wrong decision. The people just recently removed the protector of the corrupt at the Office of the Ombudsman. There is no reason for the SandiganBayan to act now as the courtyard of the crooked. The anti-graft court should act as the “sandigan ng bayan” and not the “sandigan ng mga kurap”.

Lastly, we call on the Aquino government to seek all the remaining legal remedies to reverse the anti-graft’s court ill-conceived decision. The likes of Garcia must be made accountable if the government wants to win the struggle against corruption.

Tomorrow will be the first year of the 2010 presidential elections, which brought into power this government because of a strong anti-corruption electoral vote. We earnestly hope the people are not alone in the fight against systemic corruption