THE United States government on Wednesday turned over the second tranche of $1.28 million in proceeds of the forfeited assets of former military comptroller Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia, to the Office of the Ombudsman in Quezon City.
US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg led the delegation of US officials during the turnover of the US Treasury check for $1,384,940.28 to the Philippine government represented by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales.
The $1.3M check represented the net proceeds from the sale of Garcia’s condominium unit at The Trump Tower along Park Avenue in Manhattan, New York and the funds from two accounts maintained in Citibank, New York, assets that were traced by investigators of the US Department of Homeland Security to be part of his laundered properties.
“Battling public corruption is a challenge that all countries face, including the US. Meeting that challenge is vitally important to ensure public confidence in the honesty and integrity of public servants,” Goldberg said during the turnover ceremony.
“Since retiring from the Supreme Court to serve as the Ombudsman, Justice Morales has been tireless in the investigation and prosecution of public corruption cases. The United States is very pleased to be able to assist Ombudsman Morales and her office whenever possible.”
Morales, for her part, thanked the US government for helping the Aquino administration recover the assets of Garcia.
“This milestone in asset recovery sends the message across that raiders of public coffers can no longer hide their unexplained wealth, they cannot hide their dummy bank accounts, wherever located, and they cannot hide from the long arm of the law,” she noted.
The Philippine military expressed gratitude to the US for the recovery of Garcia’s ill-gotten wealth. “The AFP is thankful for this new development. Corruption has no place in the AFP,” said Brig. Gen. Joselito Kakilala, military spokesman.
In January 2012, the US government through then ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. initially turned over to the Ombudsman $100,000 or P430,000 representing the cash seized by the US Customs authorities from Garcia’s two sons upon their entry in California in December 2003.
The confiscation sparked a series of probe of transactions entered into by Garcia.
In April 2005, Garcia was charged with cases of perjury, money laundering and plunder before the Sandiganbayan for allegedly amassing ill-gotten wealth while he was then the AFP comptroller.
The anti-graft court had already convicted Garcia of perjury.
On the money laundering and plunder suits, Garcia pleaded to the lesser offenses of indirect bribery and facilitating money laundering.
Forfeiture proceedings are still pending before the Sandiganbayan. With F. Solmerin