After years of facing accusations regarding the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC), Governor Gwendolyn Garcia now feels vindicated as the criminal charges filed against her and 11 others were dismissed.
In a press conference on Wednesday, January 6, she expressed her gratitude to the people who consistently helped and supported her despite the many accusations thrown against her.
The governor said the complaint had no merit based on evidence.
Garcia, together with ten other officials of the Cebu Provincial Government and one private contractor were sued before the Office of the Ombudsman in 2012 for a violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019 or Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
They were accused of giving undue preference to the contractor, WT Construction Inc., when they resorted to limited source bidding in the construction of the CICC.
However, the Office of the Ombudsman, in its December 14, 2020 order, ruled in favor of the public officers. Two of the four elements of the crime were found missing which led to the dismissal of the case.
According to the order, the complainant failed to establish that the public officials acted “through manifest partiality, evident bad faith, or gross inexcusable negligence” and “caused any undue injury to any party, including the government, or gave any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference.”
Garcia said she was grateful to God, to Sr. Santo Niño, and Our Lady of Guadalupe as well as her lawyers and the Office of the Ombudsman for seeing to it that justice prevails.
“Pasalamat sa Ginoo kay bisan paman sa tanan nga maneuvering and political machinations of those that were empowered then. In the end, I say, once again, justice has prevailed and the truth has set, not only me but all of you Cebuanos, whether nilaban mo nako or wa mo nilaban, has set all of us free,” she said.
In addition, Garcia is mulling to create a Technical Working Group (TWG) to look into the CICC transaction and focus on the possible recovery of the building.
In its annual report for 2019, the Commission on Audit (COA) found that the sale of the CICC had no approval from them and thus deemed illegal.
Catalyst for growth
The CICC became a “catalyst for growth” in Mandaue City as many businesses were established in the area. It held various international conventions, Capitol activities, as well as private exhibits which generated income to the Province.
Meanwhile, Garcia shared that her family, especially her father, former Governor Pablo Garcia is happy about the dismissal of the CICC case and the dismissal of the Balili Property case last year.
“Kini ron nga gi-dismiss na nang duha nga mao man gyud sige nila og throw at me, kaning Balili og ang CICC, ang perceptions sa katawhan ako lang ipanghinaot dili nga they will see me formidable but they will see me as vindicated,” Garcia said. (Mylen Manto)