Alvarez rejects Ombudsman order vs Garcia

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SPEAKER Pantaleon Alvarez says there's nothing in the Constitution that says the Ombudsman can discipline a member of Congress.

SPEAKER Pantaleon Alvarez on Monday said the House of Representatives would not implement the order of the Ombudsman to dismiss Deputy Speaker and Cebu Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia for lack of constitutional basis.

“Definitely not,” Alvarez said in a phone patch interview, when asked if he would implement the order of the Ombudsman.

The Office of the Ombudsman announced Monday that it ordered the dismissal of Garcia in connection with her actions when she was still governor of Cebu.

According to the Office of the Ombudsman, a copy of the order will be provided to the Office of the Speaker for appropriate action.

But Alvarez said, “The appropriate action is not to implement the order. Why? Because there is nothing in the Constitution that allows me to do that.”

“In fact, it is not in the power of the Ombudsman to discipline much more to remove any member of the House of Representatives,” Alvarez said.

Since the Constitution gives the House the power to discipline or even expel any of its members, Alvarez said implementing the Ombudsman’s order would constitute violation of the charter.

“So pag ginawa ko yan, I will be violating the Constitution since merong nakalagay sa Constitution na kami lang yung may kapangyarihan to discipline or remove a member of the House of Representatives,” Alvarez said.

Paragraph 3, Section 16 of Article VI of the 1987 Constitution provides 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.”

Alvarez also argued that the dismissal order against Garcia was issued in connection with her actions as a governor, not as a lawmaker.

“Yung dismissal order na yan, ang ni-recommend mo dyan yung dismissal niya as a governor, not as a congressman. Baka late yung desisyon, late yung order. Dapat nilabas yung order nung siya ay isang gobernador pa lang,” Alvarez said.

However, Alvarez refused to comment on the claim of Garcia that the timing of the issuance of the order is suspect because it came at a time she was very active in her participation in the impeachment proceedings against Supreme Court Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno.

“Wala naman akong pakialam diyan sa timing-timing na yan kung ano man yan. Wala rin akong pakialam kung ano man yung laro diyan. Ang sa akin lang, yung legal basis lang. That is, kung merong legal basis yan base sa ating Saligang Batas ay gagawin ko. Pero kung wala naman I will not do it,” Alvarez said. p: wjg

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