Gag order on Garcia plea bargain ‘very odd,’ senators say

December 23, 2010

Maila Ager
December 23, 2010

MANILA, Philippines – Even senators were surprised by the Sandiganbayan’s gag order on the controversial plea bargain involving former military comptroller Carlos Garcia, calling this move “unfortunate” and “very odd.”

Garcia, who was charged with plunder for allegedly amassing P303 million in unexplained wealth, had been allowed to post bail after he pleaded guilty to the lesser charges of direct bribery and money laundering.

“That is unfortunate because the public deserves to know the justification for it as it sends the wrong signal to would be plunderers,” said Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero in a text message on Thursday.

“I think the gag order is very odd to say the least, I have never heard a gag order on a sensational case until now,” said Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan in a separate text message.

“What are they afraid of? Are there people out to suppress the truth?” he asked.

Given the high profile nature of the case, Pangilinan said, “There is in fact a greater need for full disclosure and utmost transparency.”

Thus, Pangilinan said the gag order should be “vigorously opposed as it suggested that there were those who wanted to control access to information, which only creates the impression that these people have something to hide.”

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