MANILA, Philippines–The Office of Vice President Jejomar Binay on Sunday scored Philippine National Police (PNP) Central Visayas Regional Director Chief Supt. Marcelo Garbo for saying that 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 threat to physically remove Garcia from her office was of his own making or was ordered by Interior Secretary Mar Roxas or PNP Director General Allan Purisima.
Pozon reminded Garbo that Garcia has questioned her six-month suspension in the Court of Appeals, with a prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order.
“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 told Garbo.
He also described the plan to remove Garcia from her office as unChristian, “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.”
Abuse of authority
“(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. “More so, such an act invites counter-actions that could have political consequences beyond your control,” he added.
Meanwhile, the PNP on Sunday denied allegations of the Garcia camp that it was allowing itself to be used to enforce “martial law” in Cebu.
In a statement, PNP spokesperson Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo Jr. maintained that policemen assigned to the Cebu capitol were merely doing their job to ensure law and order in the area.
Despite the tension between the police and Garcia’s supporters, Garbo said the PNP would observe maximum tolerance in dealing with the suspended government official’s camp.
“The PNP is not taking sides in this issue… Any insinuation of martial law in Cebu only serves to undermine the professional and good image of the police organization,” he said.
Part of PNP’s initiative
He also stressed that the decision of the police to remove the tents of Garcia’s supporters from the capitol grounds was part of the PNP’s “initiative to maintain order in the area.”
A police officer, Insp. Avelino Enquito, had filed a case against Garcia’s son, Pablo “Paolo” Garcia III, after the latter and two of his friends allegedly assaulted Enquito when the policeman tried to remove the tents.
Paolo Garcia had charged Enquito, other police officers and Secretary Roxas with robbery for removing the tents rented by his mother’s supporters.