Magpale won’t ‘lock Gwen out’-A A +A
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
CEBU CITY -- Acting Cebu Governor Agnes Magpale said Tuesday she has no plans of taking away suspended Governor Gwendolyn Garcia’s service vehicle or padlocking her office if she decides to dance in this Sunday’s Sinulog parade.
Garcia wouldn’t say Tuesday whether she has decided to perform in the Sinulog for the ninth year. The risk that she might not be able to return to her office will be one of the factors in her decision, she said.
“Whether she likes it or not, I’m still the governor and I will always be a devotee. If she wants to insist that I am not the governor, she will have to tell each and every Cebuano if I decide to dance,” Garcia said.
Magpale earlier told reporters she will respect Garcia’s decision to dance “as a devotee.”
It was business as usual at the Capitol on Day 28 since a copy of her six-month suspension order reached Garcia’s office.
But outside, spokespersons for the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) and the Liberal Party (LP) were anything but quiet.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Cebu Province is waiting for its law department to say who between Garcia and Magpale should be allowed to retain two government security escorts, despite the start of the election period last Sunday.
Comelec Resolution 9608 allows incumbent governors and members of Congress to keep two security personnel who have been with them for at least a year before the election period started.
Garcia said she does not want to have security escorts but will rely on the advice of her son and her family.
Provincial Election Supervisor Lionel Marco Castillano sent a letter to Comelec Regional Director Temie Lambino on Monday to determine who should be considered the incumbent governor: the acting governor or the suspended governor?
“Let’s just make that very clear because we have one who is confused who thinks that she is governor but is actually acting governor. She is still the vice governor, acting and sometimes overacting as governor,” Garcia said.
If she does decide to dance, she will join a contingent from Liloan, whose mayor is her son-in-law, Mayor Duke Frasco. It will be the longest time she has stayed outside of the Capitol since the suspension order reached her office last December 19.
Garcia has asked the Court of Appeals to stop the Office of the President’s suspension order, which resulted from an administrative case filed by the late Vice Governor Gregorio Sanchez Jr.
While Magpale promised not to stop Garcia from returning to her office on Sunday, if she ventures outside, she also maintained that coterminous employees should turn over properties issued to them.
She has issued a memorandum asking seven of these employees to turn over the properties. They include Elizabeth Francia, the governor’s chief of staff and the head of Sugbu TV and Sugbu News.
Garcia on Tuesday defended Francia for blocking the supposed inventory and turnover last January 14. She explained that the memorandum receipts are in Francia’s name and she risks getting sued if she hands over the equipment.
On the eve of the President’s visit to Cebu, the UNA, a coalition of opposition groups, defended Garcia and accused the administration of bearing down on its rivals.
“Liberal Party’s repressive tactics in Cebu only mirror its high-handed style in dealing with its political enemies” and is part of a “grand project to strangle its rivals in the 2013 elections,” the UNA said in a press release.
But LP Cebu spokespersons lawyer Edgar Gica and Atty. Joselito Ramon Castillo said the cases that LP is planning to file against Garcia are “of her own making.”
A press release issued by Representative Toby Tiangco, UNA secretary-general, asked: “Why the sudden downpour of cases against Governor Garcia? We can only assume that a creeping crackdown on the LP’s political rivals is now in full swing.”
UNA senatorial candidate Ernesto Maceda also responded to a statement of LP Cebu official lawyer Democrito Barcenas on the plan to file additional charges against Garcia.
“The statement confirms that the Garcia suspension is a Liberal Party project and smacks of political harassment,” he said.
Another candidate, Margarita Cojuangco, said: “Mar (Roxas, the interior and local government secretary) cannot feign ignorance and one need not be a genius to decipher and know who is behind and who will ultimately benefit from the removal of, and political weakening of Governor Gwen.”
UNA candidates Gringo Honasan, Nancy Binay, Richard Gordon and Jack Enrile also weighed in on the controversy, and called for “fair play and decency” in the handling of cases against the suspended governor.
In their response, LP lawyers stated, “The planned filing of cases was hatched after Garcia’s suspension and after a clear opportunity to examine the voluminous records withheld by Garcia from public scrutiny.”
“So, to answer UNA’s question: ‘Why the downpour of cases?’ is with another question: Why the sheer stubbornness, arrogance, deception, greed and open defiance to a lawful order? UNA does not know the real score in Cebu,” they said in a press release.
They cited a recent announcement by Acting Governor Magpale of over P900 million in the Capitol’s payables and described the “discovery” as “the result of LP’s belief that a public office is a public trust.” (FMG/OCP of Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 16, 2013.