Garcia slams SWAT men at Cebu Capitol; PNP denies sending battle-ready cops
CEBU CITY, Philippines–Is suspended Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia getting ready for a siege?”
Garcia on Monday had the governor’s office secured with big padlocks and chain while the windows of the office were covered with plywood.
At the back entrance near the Provincial Assessor’s Office, the door was also padlocked. Due to these measures, policemen detailed at the treasurer’s office, accounting office and the closed circuit television (CCTV) room were no longer allowed entry inside the Capitol building.
The policemen who asked for anonymity said this situation did not happen even during the Christmas holidays.
At least four policemen were detailed for each office.
The Garcia camp had sounded the alarm at around 3 a.m. Monday about the alleged arrival of members of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team from the Cebu City Police Office at the Capitol compound.
Garcia posted several messages in her Twitter account at the same time.
“There’s a steady buildup of forces in the Capitol premises. SWAT personnel are manning the gates,” was her first post.
Then, she added that, “Outside the gates, our people are no longer allowed entry. Are they planning to take me out by force now?”
“Calling on all Cebuanos who care: they are forcing entry,” she further posted.
“We are surrounded. We only hope Cebuanos will come to help us,” was her fourth message.
Several phone calls and text messages sent by the Philippine Daily Inquirer to acting Gov. Agnes Magpale asking for her reaction to the situation were not answered.
Meanwhile, Garcia continued to express hope that “justice and truth will prevail.”
This was her New Year’s wish after more than a week of implementation of the Malacañang’s suspension order.
The suspended governor also planned to spend her New Year’s Eve at her office with her family.
Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama who visited the Capitol Monday morning said he would ask Senior Supt. Mariano Natuel, Cebu City Police Office officer-in-charge, to investigate the presence of the SWAT team at the capitol.
Rama emphasized that he did not want policemen from Cebu City to be involved in the Capitol matters.
“Let the determination of who should be the rightful governor be left (to the courts),” he said.
Meanwhile, Police Regional Office (PRO 7) director Marcelo Garbo on Monday afternoon denied that they sent a Special Weapons and Tactics (Swat) team to the capitol compound early Monday to evict suspended governor Gwendolyn Garcia.
Garbo said he had checked with Senior Supt. Louie Oppus, PRO7 deputy director for operations and the ground commander at the Capitol who told him there was no SWAT team deployed there.
“That’s not true. And we have no plan to remove her physically. We haven’t received such an order from the Chief PNP (Philippine National Police) or the Department of Interior and Local Government,” Garbo told station dyLA.
Asked why the Garcia camp made such an allegation, Garbo said “These people are politicians. They’re up to something. This is just a matter of projection (from their camp).”
But Garbo refused to say what he meant by this comment except to say that it was just a ploy of Garcias to gain sympathy and political mileage.
He explained though that acting governor Agnes Magpale has ordered the police to tighten the security of the Capitol compound during the holiday.
According to Garbo, it is normal police operation to tighten the security by asking for proper identification and the specific purposes of a person who would like to enter the building during a holiday.
He added that only vehicles bearing provincial officials on official business would be allowed to enter the Capitol building during the holidays.
Garbo noted, though, that it was just a short walk from the gate towards the office of the governor.