MANILA, Philippines—Saying that President Benigno Aquino III did not violate any law in ordering Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia suspended, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) formally opposed Garcia’s petition to stop her suspension in the Court of Appeals.
In a 29-page petition dated Dec. 27, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza said the embattled governor’s petition should be denied for lack of merit as she had “failed to demonstrate that there was a flagrant abuse of the exercise of the power of suspension” by the Office of the President.
The OSG said under Sections 67 and 68 of the Local Government Code of 1991, the decision of the Office of the President in administrative cases is final and executory and an appeal does not prevent the decision from becoming final and executory.
The solicitor general countered Garcia’s argument that the administrative complaint against her should have been dismissed in view of the death of complainant Vice Gov. Gregorio Sanchez Jr.
Jardeleza, quoting two Supreme Court decisions issued in 2005 and 2009, explained that in administrative cases, the death of a complainant does not automatically extinguish the case against a respondent.
“In this class of proceedings, the complainant is only treated as a witness,” said Jardeleza.
“Once an administrative complaint is given due course, the government becomes the real aggrieved party and the complainant’s death will not exonerate the public official of administrative charges,” he added.
The OSG said Garcia also “misread” another 2005 Supreme Court ruling which she cited in supporting her claim that the vice governor did not have the authority to appoint.
The OSG said the Office of the President and the Department of the Interior and Local Government found that Garcia signed the appointment papers of contractual employees for the vice governor’s office in 2010 and charged their salaries to the budget allocation for the vice governor’s office.
The budget for the contractual employees was removed in 2011 for “unknown reasons” but was restored after Sanchez’s death.
“This evokes malice and bad faith,” said Jardeleza. He said the budget reduction came after Sanchez left Garcia’s political party which “lends itself to the belief that a scheme to restrict the functions of the [vice governor] was employed.”
“This counters the very purpose of the Local Government Code which is to distribute power among elective local officials, allow a check and balance,” said the OSG.
The OSG also countered Garcia’s claim that she had not yet received the suspension order, saying it was posted on the door of Garcia’s office.