Gwen Garcia slams suspension: ‘Over my dead body’By Jhunnex Napallacan
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Governor Gwendolyn Garcia dared police on Thursday to forcibly remove her from the governor’s office where she has been holed up since Wednesday after she was ordered suspended for six months, saying her removal could only happen “over my dead body.”
In Malacañang, a spokesperson for the President appealed to Garcia on Thursday to first respect the order and “avail [herself] of legal remedies.”
Abigail Valte, one of Aquino’s spokespersons, appealed to Garcia to respect the decision and follow the suspension while awaiting legal remedy.
Valte said she was not foreseeing violence marring the standoff in the provincial capitol.
But Garcia has said she remains to be governor despite the oath-taking of Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale as acting governor.
“I will continue to discharge my function as governor of Cebu and if they want to stop me, then they have to do that over my dead body,” she said at a press conference after meeting with her department heads for two hours.
Garcia said she was ready in case police try to forcibly remove her from office.
“I shall continue to hold office right here and they can only stop me if they will physically drag me out of this office,” she said.
She said her lawyers have been seeking a temporary restraining order to stop the suspension order. She, however, declined to say which court the petition was filed in.
Garcia has been staying at her office at the capitol since Wednesday after the Department of the Interior and Local Governments served the suspension order and installed Magpale as acting governor.
Garcia was ordered suspended based on the complaint filed by the late Vice Gov. Greg Sanchez in 2010, accusing her of usurpation of authority.
Security was tight at the capitol, which has been brimming with policemen.
A police truck was parked in front of the capitol grounds, which were barricaded and guarded by at least 30 policemen. Another police truck and a fire truck were parked at the gate leading to the governor’s office.
Police removed tents where Garcia supporters had gathered.
Chief Supt. Marcelo Garbo, regional police chief, said he has not received an order to use the “full force of the law.”
Garbo said that police, however, saw Magpale as the legitimate governor.
Magpale admitted that department heads in the provincial capitol did not heed her call for a meeting.
“If they will not heed my orders, I will charge them with insubordination,” she said.
Asked to comment about Cebu having two governors, Magpale replied: “For the record, there’s only one governor and she’s acting governor Agnes Magpale.”
Garcia said the capitol’s department heads had assured her of continuing loyalty. She said the officials “all came to reaffirm their commitment to the duly elected governor.”
“As far as they are concerned, there’s only one governor and it is the governor who was given the mandate by Cebuanos not just once, not just twice but three times, and that governor is Gwen Garcia,” said Garcia.
At least 26 incumbent and former mayors also went to the capitol to express support for Garcia, according to her brother, Dumanjug Mayor Nelson Garcia, head of the League of Municipalities in the Philippines (LMP)-Cebu chapter.
The province has 44 towns and seven cities under its jurisdiction.
The mayor said the LMP would issue a statement declaring support for his sister.
Garcia warned that banks holding deposits of the capitol would be in trouble if they recognized another authorized signatory.
Magpale said she has written to the banks to inform them that she has assumed office as the acting governor of Cebu. With reports from Chito O. Aragon and Carmel Loise Matus, Inquirer Visayas
Tags: Abigail Valte , administrative complaints , administrative offenses , Agnes Magpale , governors , Gwendolyn Garcia , Local authorities , Local Governments , Malacañang , News , Philippine executive branch , Philippine Government , Politics , suspension of public officials , usurpation of authority , vice governors