It’s Garbo vs Garcia-A A +A
Monday, December 31, 2012
CEBU CITY - The arrival of a police assault team in the early hours of New Year’s Eve provoked Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia’s camp to cover all the windows in the hall leading to her office.
It also provoked her family on Monday to accuse Police Regional Office (PRO) Central Visayas Chief Marcelo Garbo Jr. of “a personal vendetta”.
Thus began Day 13 of the governor’s suspension ordeal: with tension and her appeal, made on Twitter, that “Cebuanos will come to help us.” Hours later, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, Mariquita Salimbangon-Yeung and other friends and relatives of the governor were allowed inside to visit.
Garbo confirmed some Special Weapons and Tactics (Swat) personnel were sent to the Capitol before dawn Monday, not to physically remove the governor from her office, but to secure the area.
They were there for police visibility, said Supt. Paul Labra II, chief of the PRO 7’s Intelligence Division.
But the governor’s father, Deputy Speaker Pablo Garcia, questioned Garbo for a statement that the governor had until Monday to leave or she would be forcibly removed from office. (Garbo has since clarified that no such order was given.)
In a letter dated December 30, the deputy speaker said the information announced by Garbo in recent radio interviews was shocking.
“Are you acting on your own?” the deputy speaker asked in his letter to Garbo. “If not, whose order are you going to implement? Additionally, is this order in writing?”
He said he hoped that police would refrain from preempting the resolution of the court. The governor has asked the Court of Appeals for a temporary restraining order on her suspension, and her family said they are ready to go all the way to the Supreme Court.
Despite the tense start, it was a quiet day at the Capitol.
The governor’s brother, Representative Pablo John Garcia, said the arrival of the Swat team reinforced the threat, attributed to Garbo, that the governor would be removed from her office.
“Swat is an assault team. So its presence alone indicates the threat of an imminent assault. Unless they were just there for a photo shoot,” Pablo John said.
He confirmed they had dispersed by the time he arrived at the Capitol at 3:30 a.m.
Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, who visited Governor Garcia on Monday, said he will not allow the Cebu City policemen to do anyone any harm at the Capitol.
In a DyAB radio interview, Acting Governor Agnes Magpale said people were free to enter the Capitol but only have to present an identification card.
“She padlocked herself inside her office,” Magpale said, referring to the governor.
Both Garbo and Labra, however, also claimed that some friends of the governor’s son Pablo III (more commonly known as Paulo) had arrived at the Capitol with firearms last December 21.
That’s false, Paulo said.
“Is that the conduct of the highest PNP official of Central Visayas? Ayaw intawon siya pagbutangbutang og malisya sa mga tao na muadto para mosuportar ni Governor Gwen. Neutral man kaha siya? (He should not make any false statements about the supporters of Governor Gwen. Is he acting neutrally?),” Paulo said.
Garbo said the police are considering listing Paulo’s Airsoft group as a “potential” private armed group, after they were allegedly seen armed during a mass at the Capitol.
“They might be a threat to the peace and order situation in Cebu, considering Paulo and his friend’s attitude,” he told reporters in a press briefing.
Garbo raised the possibility that the group’s weapons would be used for illegal activities as the May 2013 election approaches.
“But this will not happen, not under my watch. Binangga pa nila ang police,” he said.
Supt. Labra, in a separate interview, said they already have the names of Paulo’s friends who were there during the mass. He coordinated with the Firearms and Explosives Section, and was informed that some of them owned handguns, while others allegedly owned rifles.
But if indeed Paulo’s friends brought weapons to the Capitol, Representative Pablo John Garcia said there were more than enough policemen who could have arrested them.
“The Capitol was Garbo’s garrison at that time, with more than 200 of his armed men preventing entry to the Capitol compound. He had checkpoints at all points leading to the Capitol. And he couldn’t arrest a few armed men if that were so?” he said in a text message.
“General Garbo has made this a personal vendetta against the governor and her family,” added Pablo John, who is One Cebu’s candidate for governor next year, against Hilario Davide III of the Liberal Party (LP).
Deputy Speaker Garcia explained that his daughter was not removed from office because of the suspension. “What is suspended is only her exercise of the duties and functions of the position,” he said.
He cited Sections 1 and 2 of Article III (The Bill of Rights) of the Constitution, which states no person shall be deprived of his/her liberty except by virtue of a warrant of arrest or similar order from the court.
The police would face kidnapping, grave coercion or assault charges if they will forcibly take the governor from her office, he added. (Sun.Star Cebu/Sunnex)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 01, 2013.