Court sets Garcia TRO aside-A A +A
Friday, February 1, 2013
MANILA (Updated) -- The Court of Appeals (CA) will no longer rule on Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia's prayer for a temporary restraining order (TRO), it said in a resolution dated January 31.
It decided to take this tack after Governor Garcia recently asked the CA to issue a preliminary injunction that will render her suspension ineffective for an unlimited period.
Garcia's camp described the development as unfair.
Before they received the resolution, Garcia's camp filed Friday a motion asking CA Associate Justice Vicente Veloso, chairman of the 12th Division, to inhibit himself from the case.
His latest resolution makes even more evident his bias and prejudice against Governor Garcia, said the governor's daughter and one of her lawyers, Christina Frasco.
The latest resolution, written by Associate Justice Veloso, states: "Noting that petitioner, in submitting to us now the issue of (a) whether or not a preliminary injunction should be issued has already abandoned her prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order/status quo ante order, the Court deems it best to no longer rule on said incident of TRO/status quo ante order."
The governor's stay-in protest against her six-month suspension ended last Wednesday, when the police padlocked her office door at the Capitol while she was out visiting some southern towns.
She continues, however, to question the suspension order from the Office of the President, which found her administratively guilty for grave abuse, based on a complaint filed in November 2010 by then Vice Governor Gregorio Sanchez Jr.
In a press conference on Friday, Atty. Frasco pointed out that their prayer for a temporary restraining order (TRO) has been submitted for resolution last January 10.
She recalled that Justice Veloso even reiterated that fact in a written order last January 22.
"Please note that the application for a TRO and application for preliminary injunction are two separate incidents," Frasco said. The latter, she explained, was a reply to a comment of the Office of the Solicitor General.
"To say that we have abandoned our TRO because we seek to file a reply on the injunction is illogical, unjust and unfair," said Frasco.
A TRO would have been good for up to 60 days. The resolution said that the three-member division will only focus on the new petition "in the interest of justice and to expedite the disposition of the parties' dispute."
The CA then considered the case submitted for decision as of Friday, February 1, with or without Garcia's reply to the comment by the Office of Solicitor General, which represents Malacañang.
Acting Governor Agnes Magpale welcomed the new development.
"Sa laktod na pagkasulti (In other words), there is no TRO," Magpale said in a press release statement.
As for the governor's continuing legal battle, Magpale said, "That is her prerogative, and that is what democracy is about."
The Garcia camp, in asking Associate Justice Veloso to inhibit himself from the case, cited his "sweeping statements" against Governor Garcia during oral arguments on the TRO and an "inordinate delay" in resolving their application.
Frasco pointed out how quickly Justice Veloso granted a TRO to Liberal Party member Aga Mulach, who was allowed to remain a registered voter of Camarines Sur where he is seeking office.
Governor Garcia, meanwhile, has been waiting patiently for the TRO for over 40 days now.
Garcia's allies in the United Nationalist Alliance, headed by Vice President Jejomar Binay, have said that her suspension is tainted by political color because the outgoing governor is not close to President Benigno Aquino III. Until last September, the governor was being considered a potential candidate for the Senate.
One of Garcia's lawyers, Tranquil Salvador III, said they will not comment on the CA's move yet, pending receipt of the resolution.
"We are not aware of that (resolution)," he told Sun.Star. (Virgil Lopex of Sunnex/With OCP/Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 01, 2013.