Comelec legal unit: Incumbent Cebu guv is Agnes, not Gwen

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013


ACTING Cebu Gov. Agnes Magpale had another reason to celebrate her 71st birthday yesterday.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) in a resolution recognized her as the incumbent governor, which means she can have two security escorts from the PNP, the Armed Forces of the Philippines or any law enforcement agency during the election period.

In a Jan. 18 letter, Comelec Commissioner Elias Yusoph informed Comelec 7 Director Temie Lambino that in accordance to Resolution 9608 and the recommendations of the Law Department, “the acting governor not the suspended governor,” shall be given the
privilege to have security escorts.

Rep. Pablo John Garcia (Cebu, third district), brother of Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, brushed aside the Comelec’s decision. What matters to the Garcia family, he said, were the cheers and applause from the audience who saw the governor’s performance at the Cebu City Sports Center.

Stones, bottles

Meanwhile, the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) received a report that Governor Garcia would be pelted with stones and bottles during her Sinulog dance last Sunday.

This was why CCPO Officer-in-Charge Mariano Natuel Jr. assigned four police officers to escort the governor from the Capitol to the Cebu City Sports Center and back.

Lawyer Esmeralda Amora-Ladra of the Comelec law department said an incumbent refers to the “existing holder of a political office or currently holding a specified office” and this is Magpale.

This made Magpale glad and she said she can also recommend that Garcia be given a security escort.

Magpale said that one of her birthday wishes is for the conflict at the Capitol to end.

Wish

She also wished to get the cooperation of local government officials in Cebu Province who are loyal to Garcia.

She said she will be distributing assistance to local government units at the end of this month, including the honorarium of barangay health workers, nutrition scholars, day care center workers and barangay animal health aides.

Magpale celebrated her birthday with Rep. Tomas Osmeña (Cebu City south) and his wife, City Councilor Margot Osmeña.

Congressman Osmeña praised Magpale’s leadership during the transition at Capitol but described Governor Garcia’s reaction to the suspension order as “over-acting.”

“As far as I’m concerned she’s making a fool of herself,” Osmeña said.

Sentiment

Congressman Garcia dismissed Cebu City south district congressman’s statement as “irrelevant.”

He said the applause that the governor received during the Sinulog is an indication of the Cebuanos’ sentiment. On behalf of his family, he thanked the Cebuanos.

Gwendolyn danced with the Rosquillos Festival contingent, which also included her daughter, lawyer Christina Garcia-Frasco, and son-in-law, Liloan Mayor Duke Frasco.

Natuel’s decision to assign security escorts to the governor prompted Police Regional Office 7 Director Marcelo Garbo Jr. to demand an explanation from the CCPO official.

Natuel said he was unable to notify his superior immediately because of the urgency of the situation.

Justified

“If something had happened to her, mas dako na nya akong tulubagon (I would have been made to answer to a bigger liability),” he told reporters.

“Under the circumstances, it was justified. I'm satisfied,” Garbo said. “It's good that the police were there. We don’t want anything bad to happen to her.”

But he said it will be up to the Comelec to decide if Natuel violated any election-related regulations.

Pablo John said he did not see any violation on the part of the Cebu City police officials who escorted the governor from the Capitol to the sports center and back.

Visits

He said the members of the Cebu City Police Office were just ensuring the safety of the governor.

Congressman Garcia also said their family is studying the possibility of letting the governor visit towns and cities, to grant the request of some mayors.

But the Garcia camp also has to weigh the meaning of President Benigno Aquino III’s earlier statement that Gwendolyn can stay in her office at the Capitol for as long as she wants, he said.

The governor has been staying in her office at the Capitol for more than a month after Malacañang suspended her for six months for grave abuse of authority.

While she was still undecided about dancing in the Sinulog, the governor admitted she was worried she would not be allowed to return to the Capitol.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 22, 2013.

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