A Philippine anti-graft court has approved a much-criticized plea bargain deal between prosecutors and an ex-senior general accused of plunder.

Court spokeswoman Mary Ruth Ferrer says the evidence for plunder, or large-scale graft, was weak and noted that former Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia complied with the deal's preconditions, including returning assets worth $3.1 million.

Garcia pleaded guilty to the lesser charges of bribery and facilitating money laundering.

Plunder is punishable by 40 years in prison, while bribery has a maximum term of 10 years.

The deal has been criticized by many people, including President Benigno Aquino III, for violating public interest.

Garcia has been accused of amassing $7 million while serving as armed forces comptroller.