SECURITY was scaled down at the Capitol yesterday after Capitol officials and police were criticized for making it look like a “garrison” as suspended Governor Gwendolyn Garcia refused to leave her office for the eighth day.
Gone are the two police trucks parked at night in front of the Capitol quadrangle and near the main entrance gate of the governor’s office.
Yesterday, the number of policemen assigned there dropped from more than 200 during the first day of the standoff to less than 60 policemen.
The governor, who spent Christmas at the Capitol with family, friends and allies, is still waiting for the Court of Appeals to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO).
In Malacañang, Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda skirted the question of how long they would allow the governor to defy the suspension issued to her by the Department of Interior and Local Governments (DILG).
“Let me beg off from answering that for now. Let’s just wait for the New Year to pass,” Lacierda told reporters.
The Garcias and visiting opposition leaders of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) complained about heightened security at the Capitol during last Sunday’s visit was reminiscent of “martial law”.
Employees and clients can now go in and out of the Capitol compound, unlike the first few days of the standoff. Policemen also no longer ask visitors for their ID cards or require them to log in their names.
Insp. Genesis Aniversario, team leader of the Regional Public Safety Battalion, said policemen from the RPSB and the Cebu Provincial Police Office were assigned at various Capitol offices and buildings – the treasurer’s office, radio room and the legislative building.
A handful of policemen stayed at a large tent in front of the Capitol.
It was “business as usual” for all offices in the bulding said Wilson Ramos, Provincial Social Welfare and Development asst. chief.
Acting Gov. Agnes Magpale said security was tightened to protect Capitol facilities and offices in the compound, where several hundred barangay health workers were transported by bus from different towns the day before the suspension order was served.
She said policemen were asked to stay at the Capitol to maintain peace, especially since Garcia hasn’t stepped down. Garcia told reporters that she was happy that the Capitol was no longer in a “garrison-like” state.
The UNA coalition led by Vice President Jejomar Binay lashed out at the ruling Liberal Party for committing “glaring violations of the law and clear abuse of power” in enforcing Garcia’s suspension.
“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 UNA Secretary General and Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco. /Inquirer with stories from Reporters Aileen Garcia Yap and Jucell Marie P. Cuyos