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Taking responsibility


The buck stops here,” was a sign that former US President Harry Truman put up inside his office in 1959. The sign reminded Truman that Americans hate it when their leaders don’t take full responsibility for their actions but instead pass the buck or the blame to other parties when something fouls up. It also prompted Truman to make tough decisions because it came with the President’s job description.

It’s the same pressure that is now brought upon Malacañang 13 days after suspended Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia holed herself up in the office of the governor. She continues to resist the order signed by President Benigno Aquino III suspending her from office for six months and will yield only “over her dead body.”

The defiance is an affront to the Office of the President and the entire state bureaucracy that he heads. But P-Noy might have second thoughts about unleashing his full authority in this case because he is pushing for the Liberal Party’s Senate bets in next year’s elections. Gwen has been in power for three terms and with two Garcias in Congress, it is not difficult to understand their influence in a province of more than two million voters.

“Nobody fights a sitting President,” is a warning for politicians but in an election season, P-Noy cannot wage too many wars. Notice that after he signed the Reproductive Health Bill into a full and complete law last week, a lay movement threatened to campaign against administration bets in the coming May 2013 elections.

Still, the patience of the President may have its own limits as suggested by reports that the Philippine National Police (PNP) is scrutinizing the security agency run by the Garcia family. The business documentation of the GGC General Services, which has been renamed as GGC Security Group is being looked into. The suspended governor’s son, Paolo Garcia who runs the security agency is also being questioned for carrying unlicensed firearms, a charge that he vehemently denies.

Whatever it is, the hottest buzz in the Capitol is a supposed plan of the Philippine National Police to evict suspended Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia today, New Year’s Eve. According to Rappler, Gwen’s daughter lawyer Christina Frasco got the information last Saturday from beat reporters covering the Capitol.

The PNP has not commented on the disclosure but before this, there had been reports that municipal mayors allied with the Garcias were planning to march to Cebu City to show support for Gwen. Sources say the mayors were expected to truck in 200 people per municipality. People power may boost Gwen’s position, but she can’t sustain the activities for long. She is running for the 3rd district while her father Pablo is seeking reelection in the 2nd, and brother, incumbent Rep. Pablo John (3rd district) is running for governor.

Reports suggest the Garcia camp maybe resorting to back channels as a way of ending the impasse.

Rep. Pablo Garcia recently paid Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal a visit supposedly to update the retired prelate with developments surrounding her daughter’s suspension. At the end of the visit, Vidal expressed willingness to mediate in the conflict but added he cannot accomplish anything if only one side seeks mediation.

I thought Vidal’s pronouncements were meant to prompt Acting Gov. Agnes Magpale to talk it out or dialog with Gwen, but since it is the Department of Interior and Local Government which is mandated to implement the order suspending Gwen, I think Vidal’s ideas were meant to notify Malacañang.

Back channeling is realistic because the Garcias happen to ride two political horses, so to speak. Noy Pabling and Pablo John are allied with the administration in the Lower House. Gwen’s One Cebu is allied with the opposition United Nationalist Alliance but let us remember that party head Vice President Jejomar Binay has many allies in the administration.

* * *

On the other hand, P-Noy is not a traditional politician. If Gwen is ejected from the Capitol, it will signal his resolve to diminish the Garcias in the coming elections. Insiders say the President can be relentless if he has the goods against his target, meaning, if he is convinced by the righteousness of his cause.

In the impeachment of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, who is said to have supported the late President Corazon Aquino, observers likened P-Noy to a pit bull, which, after cornering the object of its antagonism, gipaak og giwisi–wisi pa gyud (bit and flogged the victim).

* * *

This being my last article for 2012, I wish to thank Cebu Daily News readers for making this corner a part of their day twice a week in the year that is ending.

Here’s to a peaceful and prosperous New Year!

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