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Sandigan upholds Carlos Garcia plea bargain

Former AFP comptroller Carlos Garcia
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines -- The country's anti-graft court upheld on Wednesday the plea bargain between former military comptroller Carlos Garcia and the Office of the Ombudsman that dropped plunder charges against the retired general in exchange for pleading guilty to the lesser charge of direct bribery.

The Sandiganbayan dismissed the motion of the Office of the Solicitor General to stop the plea bargain, calling the controversial deal "in accord with the law" and "to the best interest of government."

Under the deal, Gacia, who was accused of stealing some P303 million, was required to hand over to the government P135 million in properties and assets.

The plea bargain, crafted under resigned Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, was widely criticized and prompted the Senate to conduct an investigation into military corruption.

Soon after President Benigno Aquino III assumed office, an impeachment case was filed against Gutierrez, who resigned before it could be resolved by the overwhelmingly pro-administration House of Representatives.

Garcia is jailed at the National Bilibid Prison after he was convicted by a military court martial.