2 prayer rallies today on Capitol standoff-A A +A
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
TWO prayer rallies are scheduled this afternoon in Cebu City, one in support of Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and the other in support of Acting Gov. Agnes Magpale.
The police promised to exercise “super maximum tolerance” but appealed to the participants to get a permit and avoid disrupting government services.
“We will still implement the same operational plan used from the previous rally,” said Chief Supt. Marcelo Garbo Jr., head of Police Regional Office (PRO) 7. He referred to the rally in front of the Capitol last Dec. 30, when 100 police personnel were asked to watch over a rally crowd estimated at 5,000.
Also yesterday, five cause-oriented groups urged Governor Garcia to leave the Capitol building and set an example of a law-abiding citizen.
“We condemn the state of uncertainty now prevailing in Cebu. We urge Gwen to step down. By doing so, she will be respecting the Office of the President and the law,” said lawyer Gloria Estenzo Ramos.
She added that had “the ordinary people” been the ones involved, the suspension order would have been quickly enforced.
It was last Dec. 19 when the Department of Interior and Local Government left a copy of the six-month suspension order on the governor’s office door, and Magpale took oath as acting governor.
Garcia has not left the governor’s office since then.
When told yesterday of the cause-oriented groups’ appeal, she said: “As far as following the law, the law is what our codes and Supreme Court cases say, not what some people with ulterior motives or causes interpret it to be.”
“Our codes and jurisprudence all point to the fact that this suspension order is patently illegal. So indeed I am upholding the rule of law,” Garcia added.
Her supporters are scheduled to attend a mass at 3 p.m. in Fuente Osmeña, then march to the Capitol.
“I appeal to them to keep their cool,” said Magpale.
Those identified with the acting governor are scheduled to meet for a prayer rally in the Capitol Parish church, about a kilometer away from the provincial seat of government.
“Our prayers are that justice will be served and truth will prevail,” said PB Member Miguel Magpale, the son of the acting governor.
The acting governor said she wants to avoid clashes between the two groups, so she has
asked them not to go near the Capitol grounds.
Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama first said he would attend the prayer rally this afternoon, but later in his press conference yesterday, he said he would not go because he does not know the people who will be attending or the priest who will be celebrating the mass.
The mayor said he would not mind if Cebu City Hall employees would attend the prayer rally, as long as they will go on leave from work.
“Basta prayer, that’s good. I will be there,” Rama first said, but later retracted.
Some City Hall employees were seen in the rally for Garcia last Dec. 30. They are said to be beneficiaries of Ordinance 93-1, under which the Capitol allowed occupants to buy Province-owned lots.
When asked if a permit to rally is a requirement, Mayor Rama only said, “I suggest they (get one).”
The purpose of a permit is to alert all departments concerned such as law enforcers, Cebu City Traffic Operations Management and the Department of Public Services.
This way, accidents can be prevented.
Rama also reminded Acting Cebu City Police Office Chief Mariano Natuel that police personnel should be mindful of the peace and security in the Capitol area.
On her 22nd day as acting governor, Magpale said it’s now “business as usual” at the Capitol.
She recalled during her initial days when she called a meeting, and only Provincial Administrator Eduardo Habin, Budget Officer Emme Gingoyon and Legal officer Marino Martinquilla attended.
“There was confusion among department heads and employees,” said Magpale. Garcia has issued an executive order telling department heads not to follow the acting governor’s orders.
This week, most Capitol employees attended the year’s first flag-raising ceremony led by Magpale, including those assigned at Governor Garcia’s office.
The acting governor also ordered the opening of Capitol’s front and back doors.
Magpale held a meeting at the Capitol building’s conference hall yesterday, her first time to enter the main building since last Dec. 19.
She later attended the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) board meeting, where the board’s approval was needed for the release of the employees’ Christmas bonus.
“I’m not really that bothered (by the governor’s staying in her office) as long as my functions will not be distracted by her physical presence,” said Magpale.
But for five groups, it is time the governor stepped down.
In a press conference, Haidee Amigable of the Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Maralita ng Lungsod (KMPL); Atty. Ramos of the Philippine Earth Justice Center (PEJC); Antonio Navea of Sanlakas Sugbo; Aaron Pedrosa of Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC); and Estrella Catarata of Farmers Development Center (Fardec) urged the governor to leave her Capitol office “to remove this state of uncertainty”.
Although Ramos is with PEJC, she said she spoke out in her capacity as a citizen and lawyer.
“The government is quick to demolish the houses of the poor families whose only fault is that they cannot afford to build their own houses. But the government is lax in implementing its order to punish a governor who violated the law,” Amigable said.
The six-month suspension is a penalty for an administrative case filed by the late Vice Gov. Gregorio Sanchez Jr., over the hiring of employees, which he said should have been his function, among other alleged offenses.
“Give Gwen her day in court and don’t hold hostage the interest of the people,” Pedrosa said.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 09, 2013.