ONLY HOUSE CAN LET ME GO: GWEN

Sun.Star Cebu - - FRONT PAGE - /KEITH CALAYAG OF SUNS­TAR PHILIP­PINES, RVC & JKV OF SUNS­TAR CEBU

Only a de­ci­sion backed by 2/3 of the House can re­move a law­maker, Deputy Speaker Gwen Gar­cia says in speech

Re­match shap­ing up be­tween Gar­cia and Da­vide in the May 2019 midterm elec­tions

Ad­dress­ing the House, Deputy Speaker Gwen Gar­cia says that only a de­ci­sion by rep­re­sen­ta­tives, backed by a two-thirds vote, can dis­ci­pline or re­move any mem­ber of Congress

House Deputy Speaker Gwen Gar­cia em­pha­sized on Wed­nes­day that the Of­fice of the Om­buds­man could not or­der her dis­missal be­cause it does not have the power to dis­ci­pline mem­bers of Congress.

Gar­cia, in her priv­i­lege speech, took a swipe at Al­bay Rep. Ed­cel Lag­man, who im­plied that the om­buds­man’s or­der should be en­forced right away.

The rep­re­sen­ta­tive from Cebu Prov­ince’s third dis­trict agreed with Speaker Pan­ta­leon Al­varez that the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives has the sole dis­ci­plinary au­thor­ity over its mem­bers.

She cited Ar­ti­cle 6, Sec­tion 16, para­graph 3 of the 1987 Con­sti­tu­tion, which states that “each House may de­ter­mine the rules of its pro­ceed­ings, pun­ish its mem­bers for dis­or­derly be­hav­ior, and, with the con­cur­rence of two-thirds of all its mem­bers, sus­pend or ex­pel a mem­ber.”

“What the Honor­able Speaker meant, in case his mean­ing was not clear to some, is that the only in­stance where the re­moval of any mem­ber of this House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives is al­lowed un­der the Con­sti­tu­tion is by the de­ci­sion of two-thirds of this House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives,” Gar­cia said.

She said: “Not an or­der of the Om­buds­man but by two-thirds votes of all the mem­bers of the in­de­pen­dent House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.”

Repub­lic Act 6770 or The Om­buds­man Act also pro­hibits any dis­ci­plinary ac­tion on mem­bers of Congress by the anti-graft of­fice, Gar­cia said.

She cited Sec­tion 12 of the law, which states that the om­buds­man shall have dis­ci­plinary au­thor­ity over all elec­tive and ap­pointive of­fi­cials of the govern­ment and its in­stru­men­tal­i­ties “ex­cept over of­fi­cials who may be re­moved only by im­peach­ment or over mem­bers of Congress or the Ju­di­ciary.”

Con­tract

“This is how the Eighth Congress, of which I be­lieve Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Lag­man was a mem­ber, de­fined the dis­ci­plinary au­thor­ity of the Om­buds­man,” Gar­cia said.

The om­buds­man or­dered Gar­cia’s dis­missal for grave mis­con­duct over the con­tract she signed in 2012 for the sup­ply of back­fill­ing ma­te­ri­als for the for­mer Balili prop­erty in the City of Naga, Cebu. She was gov­er­nor then.

Ac­cord­ing to the Om­buds­man, Gar­cia had no au­thor­ity from the Provin­cial Board when she en­tered into con­tracts in 2012 with ABF Con­struc­tion for the sup­ply of those ma­te­ri­als, and was guilty of grave mis­con­duct.

In a sep­a­rate venue, Cebu City Mayor To­mas Os­meña crit­i­cized Al­varez’s de­ci­sion not to im­ple­ment the Of­fice of the Om­buds­man’s or­der to dis­miss Gar­cia.

Os­meña said the ac­tion of the speaker “smears the rep­u­ta­tion of Congress and the Pres­i­dent.”

“He uses le­gal mumbo-jumbo to say why he will not im­ple­ment the or­der but he has the dis­cre­tion and his dis­cre­tion fa­vors graft,” Os­meña said.

Cebu City Coun­cilor Ray­mond Gar­cia said the mayor should be con­sis­tent on his stand.

Gar­cia, Gwen’s nephew, re­called that when Cebu City South Dis­trict Rep. Ro­drigo Abel­lanosa was dis­missed in 2014, that or­der wasn’t im­posed ei­ther.

“Why is he now crit­i­ciz­ing Speaker Al­varez for non-im­ple­men­ta­tion of the dis­missal or­der against Deputy Speaker Gwen Gar­cia when the same thing hap­pened to Abel­lanosa? He was also dis­missed and the Speaker did not act. The mayor has double stan­dards; if it’s not in his fa­vor, he will com­plain, but if it’s in his fa­vor, he is silent,” Coun­cilor Gar­cia said.

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