MANILA, Philippines — The opposition coalition led by Vice President Jejomar Binay blasted on Wednesday the ruling Liberal Party for enforcing the suspension of Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia, citing “glaring violations of the law and clear abuse of power” in the official’s removal from office just five months from the mid-term elections.
UNA Secretary General Navotas Representative Toby Tiangco criticized on Wednesday what the coalition described as an excessive use of force in attempts to eject Garcia, an UNA member, from the Cebu capitol.
“Nothing can justify abuse of power… No matter what the LP and its apologists say, the people of Cebu know that “Mar-tial” law has been imposed in their province,” said Tiangco.
His statement was an apparent reference to Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, the LP leader who enforced Garcia’s suspension based on a usurpation of authority complaint by the late Vice Governor Greg Sanchez three years ago.
Still holed up inside her office at the Cebu provincial capitol, Garcia has asked the Court of Appeals to issue a temporary restraining order to stop her suspension.
“Since a case has already been filed before the Court of Appeals, the administration party should allow the courts to decide,” Tiangco said.
UNA had criticized Garcia’s suspension in the onset, calling it an attempt to take control of vote-rich Cebu as part of groundwork for swaying votes the LP’s way come the May 2013 elections.
UNA leaders Binay, former President Joseph Estrada and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile also visited Garcia in a show of solidarity on Sunday.
“The LP-affiliated Vice Governor (Agnes Magpale) closed down two media outlets on flimsy grounds. The police erected barricades and deployed hundreds of armalite-wielding policemen to the capitol. Supporters of the Governor and even employees were prevented from entering the grounds. They were not even allowed to bring in food that they have prepared,” said Tiangco.
“As Vice President Binay himself pointed out, there is no need to arm the policemen with armalite rifles since it was a peaceful assembly,” he added in a statement.
Tiangco also scoffed at statements of the Liberal Party spokesperson, Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone, which tried to distance the ruling party from Garcia’s suspension and assert the validity of the complaint against the governor.
“Harassment is harassment. You cannot invoke “respect for the rule of law” and “daang matuwid” to justify a patently illegal act and the abuse of power. Those who are now invoking the rule of law and the righteous path should first examine their tainted political and moral backgrounds to avoid embarrassing themselves and their new masters,” he said. Evardone used to be a member of Lakas-CMD, the ruling party during the presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.