UNA defends Gwen; Tom celebrates filing of charges-A A +A
Saturday, July 21, 2012
THE filing of graft and technical malversation charges against Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia before the Sandiganbayan yesterday made Rep. Tomas Osmeña (Cebu City, south district) happy.
Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, though, was saddened by it, more so because the charges were filed on the day the governor was to deliver her State of the Province Address (Sopa).
Two counts of graft and one count of technical malversation were filed against the governor in relation to Capitol’s purchase of a submerged lot in Tinaan, City of Naga, four years ago for P98.9 million.
Big names in the United Nationalists’ Alliance (UNA), the party whose senatorial ticket Garcia will run under in 2013, described the timing and “impending suspension” of the governor as “cruel” and a form of political harassment.
“It is obviously a political act to cast some doubts on the integrity of the governor and damage her reputation” said Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.
He said the cases against Garcia will not affect her candidacy as people know that she is innocent unless proven guilty.
Vice President Jejomar Binay—who was with Enrile, former president Joseph Estrada, former senators Ernesto Maceda and Richard Gordon, and Rep. JV Ejercito in Cebu for Garcia’s Sopa—said the cases against the governor made UNA decide to “support her more.”
Enrile said an attack against a member of UNA is an attack against the party.
Osmeña said he is glad the Balili case is moving. He added that Garcia should be made liable for buying the submerged property.
“It’s the people’s money. It was just like throwing the money into the water. Grabe gyud na uy (That’s serious),” Osmeña said.
Environmental lawyer Gloria Estenzo-Ramos said the development shows that the Office of the Ombudsman is doing its job in “fighting anomalies in the public sector.”
She hoped that Garcia’s case would convince public officials to follow laws and procedures.
Mayor Rama, who attended the Sopa, said Garcia has a battery of lawyers and he will leave it to them to defend the governor.
Rama wondered why Osmeña announced earlier that Garcia will be suspended in relation to the former Balili estate case.
Osmeña made the pronouncement in a news forum last Wednesday.
“Where is he getting information? Is he interfering with justice? Is he influencing? Lobbying?” Rama asked.
Enrile said politicians should stop being antagonistic to each other.
“I suggest to all political groups in the country to exercise politics with utmost sportsmanship by not filing charges against opponents,” he said.
UNA, in a statement, said elections “should be fought with dignity and high principles, not with harassment and dirty tricks.”
UNA national members lauded Garcia’s performance and Sopa.
Estrada, on the other hand, praised the Cebu governor’s bravery.
Enrile and Estrada said Garcia can be a good senator and national leader because of her experience and principles.
Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo said the case against Garcia will be resolved soon. He said, though, that the issue is beyond the jurisdiction of his department.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 21, 2012.