By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star)
MANILA, Philippines – First was irrigation chief Antonio Nangel. Then came immigration head Ricardo David. This time it’s the country’s top anti-graft prosecutor’s turn to be fired from the government service.
When President Aquino delivers his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) this afternoon, he will not just outline what he intends to do in the second half of his six-year term. He is also expected to announce his decision to dismiss the special prosecutor.
The STAR learned from unimpeachable sources over the weekend that Special Prosecutor Wendell Barreras-Sulit – who heads the prosecution arm of the Office of the Ombudsman – has been dismissed from government service.
Sulit was among the so-called midnight appointees of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2010.
Being the government’s top prosecutor, she handled the plea bargain case of former Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia, whose plunder case was downgraded to mere direct bribery.
While Sulit has a fixed seven-year term, which Aquino cut short to three, she is still under the jurisdiction of the Office of the President, and could therefore be relieved or dismissed based on an administrative offense.
Sulit is not an impeachable officer, just like former deputy ombudsman for the military and other law enforcement offices Emilio Gonzalez III, who Aquino dismissed in March 2011, but was ordered reinstated by the Supreme Court in 2012.
“He (Aquino) learned that the Garcias and Barreras are family friends in Abra,” one insider related, adding that Aquino himself observed how the government lawyer flip-flopped on the case.
Another source disclosed how Sulit professed how strong the evidence was when the more than P303 million plunder case was filed before the Sandiganbayan during Arroyo’s time.
She, however, took back her statement when Aquino became president, and even forged a plea bargain deal.
“President Aquino is very angry and could not accept why more than half of the amount plundered is suddenly lost because of this plea bargain agreement,” the source said.
Reliable sources also said that Aquino was apparently inspired by the temporary restraining order that the Supreme Court issued to the Sandiganbayan, preventing the justices from approving the plea bargain agreement that is disadvantageous to government.
Aquino had been very vocal on his stand on the Garcia plea bargain deal.
Last week, Aquino assured the nation that his administration’s services would be accelerated in the next half of his term.
“Wait for it. In a sense, the best is yet to come,” he said when he spoke at the 67th anniversary celebration of the University of the Philippines Beta Sigma fraternity at the Eastwood Richmonde Hotel in Quezon City.