MANILA, Philippines—The office of Vice President Jejomar Binay slammed Chief Supt. Marcelo Garbo, the Philippine National Police Central Visayas regional director, for saying he was prepared to physically remove suspended Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia from the provincial capitol where she has been holed up since being suspended from office last week.
A statement issued by Binay’s office quoted lawyer Ira Pozon, who heads the OVP Special Concern’s Office, as asking Garbo if his bid to physically remove Garcia from her office was his decision or that of Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas or PNP Director General Allan Purisima.
Pozon reminded Garbo that Garcia has questioned her six-month suspension before the Court of Appeals, with a plea for a temporary restraining order on her suspension.
“Due process and the rule of law, not to mention judicial courtesy, require that you hold in abeyance your decision to remove the Governor from the provincial capitol,” Pozon said.
He also described the plan to remove Garcia from her office as un-Christian, “considering that we are still observing the most joyous season for Catholics.”
Pozon also warned Garbo that “such a provocative act could add to the political tension now prevailing in Cebu.”
“(P)hysically removing the Governor from her office while the process of appeal is not yet complete invites charges of abuse of authority and violation of due process,” he said. “Moreso, such an act invites counter-actions that could have political consequences beyond your control,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) denied allegations of the Garcia camp, on Sunday, that it was allowing itself to be used in enforcing “martial law” in Cebu.
In a statement, Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo Jr., the PNP spokesman, maintained that policemen manning the Cebu capitol have been merely doing their job to ensure peace and order in the area.
Despite the tension between the police and Garcia’s supporters, he said the PNP would observe maximum tolerance in dealing with the suspended governor and her supporters.
“The PNP is not taking sides on this issue… Any insinuation of martial law in Cebu only serves to undermine the professional and good image of the (PNP) organization,” he added.
He also stressed that the decision of the police to remove the tents of Garcia’s supporters from the capitol grounds was just part of the PNP’s “initiatives to maintain order in the area.”
A police officer, Inspector Avelino Enquito, had filed a case against Garcia’s son, Pablo “Paolo” Garcia III, after he and his two friends allegedly assaulted Enquito when the policeman tried to remove the tents.
Paolo Garcia had charged Enquito, other police officers and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas of robbery for removing the tents of his mother’s supporters.