Press Release
February 3, 2011


(2nd part)

DRILON: During the last hearing, I requested the AMLC to furnish the committee with certified copies of the bank records involving Garcia in relation to the plea bargain that was signed. Did the representative of the AMLC produce these records?

AMLC's AQUINO: We produced these records and submitted to the Blue Ribbon secretariat.

DRILON: In those records that you submitted, we counted at least 124 bank accounts spread to about 10 financial institutions. These accounts were in the name of Gen. Garcia and members of the family. For the record, would the record that you submitted confirm the existence of these 124 bank accounts?

AQUINO: Yes Mr. Chairman the records do confirm, and we confirm that.

DRILON: Does Gen. Garcia also confirm this?

GARCIA: That was the report submitted by AMLC and this was discussed during...

DRILON: Very simple question: The 124 accounts appeared in your name and the names of the members of your family. Would you confirm this?

GARCIA: I confirm your honor that that was the report submitted by AMLC.

DRILON: Would these accounts yours and that of the members of the family?

GARCIA: As found during the trial, there were double entries.

DRILON: There were double entries. I will not go into that detail but just on a general point, based on these records, as of Sept. 30, 2004, the accounts' balance was of the following amounts: P77,161,957.29 and the number of the accounts in dollars was $1,702,477.07. This is roughly P173 million converted to P56.33 to a dollar. Would you confirm this Atty. Aquino?

GARCIA: I do Mr. Chairman.

DRILON: So the total amount was approximately P77,161,957,29 and $1,702,477. Now, does the AMLC know what happened to these accounts?

AQUINO: Yes Mr. Chairman. The bulk of these funds was withdrawn by the accused�Major Gen. Garcia, his wife and children--from October 5-8 prior to the issuance of the freeze order by the Court of Appeals.

DRILON: So they were able to withdraw these amounts. Is that correct?


DRILON: How much were withdrawn?

AQUINO: In 2004, the amounts withdrawn totaled about P128 million in four days time.

DRILON: In four days time, Gen. Garcia and his family withdrew a total of P128 million?

AQUINO: That's correct.

DRILON: Now, did you look for these amounts Madam Ombudsman when you signed the plea agreement?

GUTIERREZ: May I ask Prosecutor Balmeo to respond to that?

DRILON: Did you find out from Gen. Garcia where these amounts went?

BALMEO: We tried to ask the accused of the whereabouts of the P128 million that was withdrawn but we did not get any response.

DRILON: Did you ask him to restitute the amounts?

BALMEO: Yes, and that was the fact that we ask him for a condition before we agree to the plea bargain.

DRILON: And the condition was not complied with?

BALMEO: Yes your honor.

DRILON: And notwithstanding the fact that the condition was not complied with, you proceeded to enter into this plea bargain?

BALMEO: Yes your honor.

DRILON: Now, Gen. Garcia, where did you withdraw these amounts?

GARCIA: With due respect, this case is still pending with the Sandiganbayan. I would like to invoke my right against self-incrimination.

DRILON: Are you saying that these amounts were not withdrawn? The records show otherwise, it was withdrawn.

GARCIA: Again with due respect... (audio cut)

MDS: ... At the outset of the hearing, no person in interest can excuse himself by saying 'I have a right against self-incrimination'. He has to appear, so his behavior is correct so far. But, as every question is thrown to him, and he prefers to say 'I cannot remember' or 'This is self-incriminating, I don't wish to answer it', it is for this committee to decide whether he is correct or not. Mere invocation of self-incrimination does not bind for the committee. The chair may just call for a recess and decide whether he should be granted the privilege or not. But in any event, we can proceed.

DRILON: We can take that. In the meantime while we continue with the hearing and then later on the committee is not precluded from convening as suggested by Sen. Santiago then we decide whether or not we accept that. In any case, for the AMLC, when did you find out about these withdrawals?

AQUINO: We learned about these massive withdrawals in the course of the bank inquiry conducted by our financial investigators.

DRILON: You froze a certain amount after that. How much was frozen?

AQUINO: Through the Court of Appeals' freeze order, US dollar deposits of about $726,000 plus more than P11 million.

DRILON: More or less that is the amount reflected in the plea bargain agreement, which is, just in round figures, P135.4 million.

AQUINO: A portion of that Mr. Chairman.

DRILON: Therefore apart from the P135.4 million, it is clear from your records that the amount of P128 million -in dollars and in pesos--were withdrawn before you were able to freeze it?

AQUINO: Well that's correct.

DRILON: Now, other than the funds, was there anything else covered by the freeze order?

AQUINO: Yes Mr. Chairman. There were some motor vehicles in the name of some of the accused and there was also this Trump Park Avenue unit at the Trump Plaza Condominium, Park Avenue, New York City.

DRILON: Which was valued over $700,000?

AQUINO: Roughly about $765,000.

DRILON: After all of this inquiry, what did you do?

AQUINO: After the bank inquiry, we prepared an investigation report which contained our findings regarding the bank inquiry.

DRILON: What did you do with this report? Did you submit this to the Ombudsman?

AQUINO: We did submit it to the Ombudsman together with supporting documentary evidence, including bank records.

DRILON: It is clear therefore that the amount being restituted of P135 or so million, clearly, is grossly insufficient if you consider the fact that prior to the freezing of the accounts, P128 million were withdrawn from these accounts and at this point could no longer be traced and certainly, we presume and conclude that it is in the possession of Gen. Garcia. Would you agree to that statement?

AQUINO: We could no longer trace the amounts or funds withdrawn from their accounts.

DRILON: (To the prosecutors) Did you review all of these records presented by the AMLC?

BALMEO: We in fact presented documents from the AMLC...

DRILON: And you saw that P128 million was missing?

BALMEO: Yes Mr. Chair, your honors.

DRILON: Did you ever take this into account when the plea bargain was being discussed?

WENDELL BARRERA-SULIT: When the plea bargain was being discussed, they told me that there is this P128 million... but they assured me that they can recover that in the forfeiture cases still pending with the Fourth Division.

DRILON: If they cannot recover it as part of the plea bargain, I cannot imagine how they can recover it in the forfeiture cases. Did you ever make any search on the admissions made by Mrs. Garcia in the United States? Did you ever research?

SULIT: The prosecutors did a research on that. So they needed to establish another predicate crime.

DRILON: I just want to establish on the record that P128 million, based on bank records, was withdrawn and was never returned to the national coffers; that the plea bargain was entered into even without this P128 million.

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