CEBU CITY—Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and her family are preparing to spend Christmas inside her office at the Capitol where she has been staying since Wednesday following the implementation of the Malacañang order that suspended her for six months.
She told reporters that she had to remain at the Capitol because the Court of Appeals had not issued a temporary restraining order (TRO), which they expected to be issued on Friday.
“Well, I said, I will stay here, so I am still here,” said Garcia.
Garcia filed a petition for review with a prayer for a TRO to stop the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) from implementing her suspension order for grave abuse of authority.
The suspension stemmed from the complaint of usurpation of authority filed by then Vice Gov. Greg Sanchez in 2010. Sanchez died of cancer a year later.
Garcia will be accompanied by her family and allies who have been keeping her company while she is holed up at her office.
House Deputy Speaker Pablo Garcia said that if his daughter opted to stay at the Capitol, they would be with her. “Of course, I am saddened and this was handed down during Christmas time,” said the elder Garcia.
“As a father and for the rest of the family, we have to support our daughter,” he added.
Acting Gov. Agnes Magpale, however, said she was concerned about the rising cost of water and power at the governor’s office.
She said she might charge them for electric and water bills since they had agreed to be frugal in spending government funds because contrary to the claims of Garcia, the province was not economically strong although it had a lot of assets.
“We are exercising super maximum tolerance,” she said. “We should have charged them with rental, electricity and use of air-conditioning.”
Representative Garcia, however, said his daughter still had a right to have an office being the governor of Cebu.
“Only her functions were suspended but she is still entitled to an office,” he said.
The Garcia family has been with the governor since the order was issued on Wednesday.
Among those who accompanied Garcia were her mother, retired Judge Esperanza Garcia and two brothers— Dumanjug Mayor Nelson Garcia and Barili Vice Mayor Marlon Garcia.
There was no sign that Garcia was packing up as her belongings were intact.
Security guards were seen guarding her office round the clock.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, visited Garcia at 8 p.m. on Friday. The two had a close-door meeting for an hour.
Palma declined to disclose what they talked about because he promised Garcia that their conversation would remain confidential.
“My request is that we will all pray for a peaceful resolution of all of this because it affects our province,” Palma told reporters before boarding his car.
“There are many issues that we talked about … which [we] prayed would be resolved in a peaceful manner and that everything will be resolved for the good of our people,” he added.
The operation of provincial government’s TV channel, Sugbo TV, and its monthly publication, Sugbo News, was shut down at 5 p.m. on Friday on orders of Magpale pending review of its programs. With a report from Jhunnex Napallacan, Inquirer Visayas