A Wikileaks US Embassy cable from Manila shows
By Raïssa Robles
The Filipino people, whose taxes were allegedly stolen by Major General Carlos Garcia – we were the last to know.
According to the Wikileaks document dated Dec. 2, 2005 and written by Paul Jones, the deputy chief of mission (DCM, now the US Ambassador to Malaysia):
On the afternoon of December 2,(2005) a general court martial board sentenced retired Major General Carlos Garcia to dishonorable dismissal, forfeiture of military retirement benefits, and two years of hard labor at a military prison.
I, personally, found out about this only yesterday Sept. 16, 2011, while attending a press briefing at the Philippine Information Agency under Secretary Sonny Coloma.
Actually, neither Defense chief Voltaire Gazmin nor Armed Forces Chief-of-Staff Eduardo Oban volunteered the information that Garcia had been arrested hours earlier.
They only confirmed the arrest after a DZMM reporter asked why there were soldiers and an ambulance outside Garcia’s residence in Project 6 earlier that very morning.
The guilty verdict on Garcia was handed down by his peers during the period when then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo tottered in her seat in Malacañang Palace, following revelations that she had personally asked an election commissioner whether she would win the presidency by over a million votes.
The US Embassy cable called the conviction “an extremely positive development” but noted with caution that it still had to be approved by the Chief of Staff then, General Generoso Senga.
A later cable, dated April 20, 2006, and written by US Ambassador Kristie Kenney pointed out that:
Despite Garcia’s conviction in a military court martial charges in December 2005, AFP Chief of Staff Senga has not yet affirmed the ruling, nor sent it to President Arroyo for final approval or pardon.
During yesterday’s press briefing, one of the generals disclosed that the military court’s verdict was sent to Gloria Arroyo in 2007.
Between 2007 and 2010 when she stepped down from office, Arroyo sat on it.
Then during Arroyo’s last months in office, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez quietly forged a plea bargain deal with Garcia.
A prominent female journalist told me years back that when Gutierrez, who was then newly appointed acting secretary of the Department of Justice, sat beside her during an affair, Gutierrez told this lady journalist that she, together with the man who became her husband, used to double date together with her Ateneo law school classmate Jose Miguel Arroyo and his girlfriend Gloria Macapagal.
I therefore found it very amusing to hear Gutierrez say after she was impeached by Congress that she was not at all close to the Arroyos as she was touted to be.
When you double date together as young lovers, you retain fond memories of those wonderful times. This was probably the reason why Merceditas Gutierrez remembered those days of courtship. And why she was appointed Arroyo’s presidential legal counsel, then acting justice secretary, and then finally ombudsman.
I’m dedicating the song below to you Ms. Gutierrez, and I thank God your double-dating days are over.
Listen to the song while you read the Wikileaks cable on General Garcia’s “guilty” verdict by military court martial below:
UNCLAS MANILA 005647
DEPT FOR EAP/MTS, INR/EAP, DRL/CRA
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR KCOR ECON RP
SUBJECT: COURT-MARTIAL FINDS GENERAL GARCIA GUILTY
REF: A. MANILA 2578
¶B. MANILA 1641
¶1. (U) On the afternoon of December 2, a general court martial board sentenced retired Major General Carlos Garcia to dishonorable dismissal, forfeiture of military retirement benefits, and two years of hard labor at a military prison. The military court found Garcia, a former military comptroller, guilty of violating two provisions of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Articles of War: Article 96 (conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman) and Article 97 (conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline). The two charges stemmed from Garcia’s alleged misrepresentation of the value of his assets in 2002 and 2003 and for possession of U.S. permanent resident status while still a serving general. During the court martial proceedings, the prosecution focused on Garcia’s unexplained wealth in the form of real estate, luxury motor vehicles, and significant financial assets. The decision handed down by the court martial is subject to the approval of AFP Chief of Staff General Generoso Senga.
¶2. (U) At the same time, Garcia faces the charge of plundering 303 million pesos (approximately USD 6 million) before the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court, as well as four perjury charges. Under Republic Act 7080, known as “The Plunder Act,” the allowable punishment is life imprisonment or even the death penalty.
¶3. (U) Comment: The guilty verdict handed down by the court martial after an eight-month trial is an extremely positive development in the Philippine government’s anti-corruption campaign, and sends a strong warning to other corrupt government officials. Allegations of military corruption have triggered investigations of several high-ranking military officers, and Garcia is the first to be court martialed under these circumstances, and may indeed be the most senior AFP officer ever to be found guilty in a court martial. Post will continue to follow the Garcia case closely. End Comment.
¶4. (U) U.S Embassy Manila Press Guidance:
Q: Any reaction to the conviction and sentencing of former General Carlos Garcia today?
— The U.S. welcomes the general court martial conviction and sentencing in this important anti-corruption case. We note that former General Garcia also faces charges filed in civilian court.
Q: What was the U.S. role in this investigation?
— The investigation into this matter began with information gathered by law enforcement officials in the United States. U.S. and Philippine law enforcement authorities cooperated closely during this investigation, resulting in a successful conviction.
Q: Is Garcia under investigation in the U.S.? What is the status of that investigation?
— U.S. law enforcement authorities are carrying out an investigation of former General Garcia in the United States.
We cannot provide details, as the investigation is still ongoing.