POSTSCRIPT / December 21, 2010 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Pity Tim, stylish son of Gen. Garcia in NY

(Note: This Postscript came out Oct. 1, 2009, a week after killer typhoon Ondoy ravaged Metro Manila and nearby places. The column is being recalled to help put in context the case of former military comptroller Carlos F. Garcia, who was charged with plunder but was released by the Sandiganbayan on bail Saturday in a plea bargain arrangement.)

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KAWAWA NAMAN: All you flood victims contemplating our wretched lives, read this report on the curtailed lifestyle of Tim Garcia, 25-year-old (now 26) son of Maj. Gen. Carlos F. Garcia who is facing charges arising from his alleged amassing of illegal wealth in office.

The article below titled “Fashion’s Night In” was written by society writer Peter Davis, editor-at-large of Paper. His articles on style and celebrities have been published in Vanity Fair, the New York Times and The New York Observer.

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DAVIS’ ARTICLE FOLLOWS: Timothy Mark Depakakibo Garcia, a 25-year-old publicist for Marc by Marc Jacobs, has a court-ordered Fashion Week curfew.

Perched on a sleek white Armani Casa chair in his apartment in the modern, gilded Trump Plaza at 502 Park Avenue, Garcia is decked in head-to-toe designer: a supple caramel leather Alessandro dell’Acqua jacket, Alexander McQueen jeans, a thin white LnA tee shirt and YSL boots. His wrists are adorned with a big Cartier gold and silver Tank watch, a Cartier Love bracelet, a white enamel Hermes bangle and a $1,000 dollar large gold-plated spiked Hermes cuff called the Collier de Chien.

The ankle bracelet limits Garcia’s fashion choices. “I can’t even wear my knee-high croc boots by Sergio Rossi for the fall,” he laments.

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THEN GARCIA daintily rolls up his jeans to reveal one accessory he’d rather not be wearing: an electronic monitoring house-arrest ankle bracelet, code number “HGM94472.” The thick plastic black box, the size of a pack of cigarettes, is snug up against his tiny ankle. Garcia’s movements are recorded by Homeguard 200, a big black machine connected to his angular, futuristic Bang and Olufsen phone.

“I’m sorry it’s so messy,” he frets. His good friend, the outrageously outré Manila-based fashion blogger Bryan Boy is staying with him. Near the kitchen in the cozy, all-white one-bedroom apartment, Bryan Boy’s massive Louis Vuitton steamer trunk explodes open with designer duds. A white mohair Gucci dog bed, for Garcia’s five-year-old Yorkshire Terrier “Cartier,” rests under a an enormous flat-screen TV. On the kitchen table, two laptops are open and towers of fashion magazines, costume jewelry and beauty products are everywhere.

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ON MARCH 6, 2009, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) barged into Garcia’s apartment — purchased with his mother, Clarita D. Garcia, in 2004 for $765,000 — and handcuffed him “right in this chair I’m sitting in,” he says. Garcia couldn’t stop crying. He was taken to the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center, and then moved from a special housing unit to the general population. The only thing he could see from his cell window was a cemetery.

Garcia was arrested as part of a criminal investigation into the business dealings of his father, Maj. Gen. Carlos F. Garcia, a former comptroller of the armed forces of the Philippines. The elder Garcia stands accused of racking up more than P303 million ($6.2 million) of ill-gotten gains, in the form of cash, real estate and other property. General Garcia is not an American citizen and is in jail in the Philippines where the scandal has taken on Imelda Marcos-like proportions in the local press.

General Garcia’s wife and their three children (all American citizens), Timothy Mark, Ian Karl, 30, and Juan Paulo, 27, are all facing plunder charges in the Philippines, which carries a penalty of 30 years to life. They are all also subject to extradition.

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TIM GARCIA remained in lock-up for 95 days. “It was the doorway to hell,” he remembers, in his soft voice. “I was in with trannies who needed hormone treatments,” he goes on, spinning the Hermes cuff like a toy. “Pete Gotti, the brother of John Gotti, was there… organized crime families. It was a long time, a chunk of my life.”

His friends tell him he is resilient. And for someone being threatened with extradition and losing everything, he seems somewhat calm.

“It’s life altering. Imagine yourself being secluded and out of sight and out of mind and being trapped. Imagine living a comfortable lifestyle and then all of a sudden you’re forced to coexist with armed robbers, organized crime people and people who sell drugs. The cream of the criminal crop. They put me with pedophiles. I was trying not to get raped every day. It was scary.”

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AT THE SAME time, Clarita, Garcia’s mother, was also in prison. “That hurt me the most. She’s 60 and to put her in prison in conditions like that is difficult for a son. She was in prison longer than me.”

In April, Garcia says he was asked to hand over his “apartment and bank accounts.” He protested. “I knew that it was all bullshit. I was like, ‘No! I will never waver in the conviction of my father’s innocence’ and doing that would just hurt my father’s case.”

The government still contends that some of that $6.2 million went into purchasing the Trump Plaza apartment. The government also says the Garcias transferred $2 million from the Philippines to the United States.

On June 8, Garcia was released from prison on a million-dollar bail. He was despondent and in shock.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of December 21, 2010)

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