The Capitol standoff entered its eighth day with the son of suspended Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia filing robbery charges against a Cabinet secretary and police officials for removing three tents used by her supporters in front of the Capitol.
Pablo “Paolo” Garcia III filed the charge yesterday against Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas and three police officials, whom he said should be made to pay P7 million in damages.
Garcia, 33, said he rented the tents for P7,800 a day for the Mass and prayer vigil held for his mother’s supporters on Dec. 19, the day a six-month suspension order of the Office of the President was served.
The criminal charge was a tit for tat with government authorities, who had sent about 200 policemen and two trucks to guard the entrance to the Capitol compound on the first tense evening after Garcia refused to step down, and busloads of barangay health workers were brought in from various towns to support her.
In a commotion at the entrance gate past 11 p.m., the team leader of the policemen who hauled off the tents and plastic chairs was angrily confronted and slapped on the head.
The scene was caught on TV cameras.
Paolo was one of three men identified in a complaint for direct assault by Insp. Alvino Enguito, police regional safety batallion, who filed the case in the Cebu City Prosecutor’s office yesterday an hour before Paolo filed his robbery case against Enguito.
Also named respondents in the robbery case were General Marcelo Garbo, PNP director in Central Visayas; Supt. Leopoldo Cabanag, commanding officer of the PNP Regional Public Safety Battalion; and Inspector Enguito.
Paolo, in his complaint, said he learned that Secretary Roxas gave the orders for the Philippine National Police (PNP) to dismantle and take the tents away.
“Until this date, the respondents have failed and refused to return the tents notwithstanding their knowledge of the fact that the tents are not owned by the Province of Cebu,” Paolo said in his affidavit submitted yesterday.
Administrative complaints are also expected to be filed against the respondents before the Office of the Ombudsman or the PNP.
Paolo said he rented the tents from Sheentrade Marketing in Minglanilla and that he was entitled to actual damages from Dec. 18 until the tents are returned.
He demanded P500,000 in attorney’s fees, P5 million in moral damages, and P2 million in exemplary damages.
An hour before Paolo filed his complaint, he and two companions were named in the direct assualt charge by the police.
Insp. Enguito identified Paolo, Jose Ma. Primitivo Cal of Labangon, Cebu City and Tonyson Lee of Black Panda Travel and Tours in Mandaue City.
In his affidavit, Enguito said he was one of the police officers fielded to secure the Cebu Capitol and was strolling about in full uniform at 11:20 p.m. when Paolo “without any sufficient provication” hit him at the back of his head several times.
“After the assault I was a little bit dizzy and suspect (Paolo) immediately ran and took refuge into the Capitol building,” said the 27-year-old Enguito.
He said Paolo’s two companions—Cal and Lee—also hit the back of his head.
“My men could not arrest the suspects for they were outside the iron perimeter fence and they went inside the Capitol building. The agitation could have sparked a bloody confrontation but we chose to be calm,” Enguito said.
Two other policemen signed a joint affidavit to support his account.
In an interview, Paolo denied hitting the policeman in the head.
“I’m surprised why a complaint was filed against me. We know from a reliable source that someone urged him (Enguito) to file the complaint against me,” he told reporters.
He was accompanied by his wife Michelle and Capitol consultant Lito Astillero in filing the complaint.
“None of the video footage showed that I hit someone during the commotion. I’m willing to face the charges so we’ll arrive at the truth. This is purely political harassment,” he said.
In his complaint, Paolo said he rented the tents on Dec. 18, Tuesday. The next day, he said 80 to 100 uniformed policemen arrived and stopped the prayer vigil in front of the Capitol.
Upon hearing the commotion, Paolo and Cal went down from the Governor’s Office to ask about the presence of several policemen.
Paolo said the policemen dismantled the tents and stacked the monobloc chairs which were loaded on PNP trucks. He said he asked for a written order for their action.
“They angrily waylaid and pushed me and my friend Jose Cal and did not bother to respond to my queries. We were threatened and intimidated by their long firearms and could do nothing but helplessly look on as they proceeded to dismantle the three tents,” Paolo said.
He said he told Enguito the tents were not Capitol property and should be returned. /Ador Vincent Mayol, Reporter