MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) has affirmed the order of the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan barring Cebu 3rd District Representative Gwendolyn Garcia from leaving the country.
The SC upheld 3 hold departure orders (HDOs) the Sandiganbayan issued against Garcia on July 24, 2012 in connection to the controversial Balili property, which Garcia bought as governor of Cebu but turned out to be submerged under water.
The congresswoman is currently facing two counts of graft and one count of technical malversation over the allegedly anomalous deal.
Garcia had questioned the HDOs before the SC after the Sandiganbayan rejected her motion for reconsideration.
Garcia argued the Sandiganbayan prematurely issued the HDOs against her and that the anti-graft court supposedly has no authority to bar her from travelling overseas.
But the High Court said Garcia’s petition lacks merit. (READ: Is it game over for Gwen Garcia after Ombudsman’s dismissal order?)
“All told, the Sandiganbayan did not commit abuse of discretion, much less grave, in denying the motion for reconsideration and the prayer for the lifting of the HDOs issued against the petitioner. The HDOs were validly issued pursuant to its inherent powers as a court of justice,” the SC said.
The SC said the Sandiganbayan “takes full authority” over Garcia’s case, which means the court may issue warrants of arrests, HDOs, and “other process that it deems warranted under the circumstances.”
“In this case, the Sandiganbayan acted within its jurisdiction when it issued the HDOs against the petitioner,” the SC said.
On January 22, Garcia lost another round of appeals in her graft case in the Sandiganbayan. – Rappler.com
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