MANILA- A congresswoman who was ordered dismissed by the Office of the Ombudsman on Wednesday said the anti-graft body has no authority over lawmakers.
House Deputy Speaker Gwen Garcia, in a privilege speech, cited the powers and duties provided by the law to the Office of the Ombudsman.
She said the office is not allowed to "discipline" any member of Congress.
“Nothing at all in this provision, which defines in its entirety the powers, duties, and functions of the Ombudsman, is there any mention, nay even a suggestion, that the Ombudsman has the power to discipline any member of Congress, much less, to remove such member,” she said.
The Cebu lawmaker was ordered dismissed by the Ombudsman for grave misconduct when she was still governor of the province.
The ruling stemmed from Garcia's approval of the purchase of the P98.9-million Balili property in Naga City in 2008, much of which was later found to be underwater, the Ombudsman said in a statement.
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has refused to implement the dismissal order against Garcia.
The 1987 Constitution states that any member of the House of Representatives may only be expelled by a 2/3 vote of the chamber.
Garcia called upon her fellow lawmakers to "guard" the independence of the chamber.
"...We, the members of this House, could agree that instead of surrendering constitutional and statutory authority, we jealously guard it," she said.
"That instead of allowing an illegal encroachment upon what is – constitutionally and statutorily – the exclusive domain of this House, we all stand together. Not necessarily to stand with me but to stand guard, and stand true to this institution, the Constitution and the laws,” she added.
The Ombudsman has yet to issue a statement regarding Garcia's stand. - with a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News