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Looking for a graceful exit

After being cooped up in her Capitol office for 13 straight days, it wouldn’t be surprising if suspended Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia yearned to be on the road visiting towns as she’s used to doing – or just to go home for a hot shower and the freedom to move around.

Christmas was spent in unprecedented fashion – noche buena with the Garcia clan and a daughter’s birthday in the Governor’s Office.

Include New Year’s Eve. That’s how far she’s taking her declaration that she will wait for court relief to reverse the President’s order for a six-month suspension and continue to perform the duties of a governor at the Capitol.

The sacrifice is entirely self-imposed.

There’s are no “duties” to perform anymore with Acting Gov. Agnes Magpale sworn in as chief executive. For financial operations, the flurry of bills that have reached Magpale’s desk in the amount of almost P200 million, per report of the Provincial Treasurer, are looking for her signature, not Garcia’s to exact payment.

When the New Year rolls in, guess who will be visited in the Capitol for courtesy calls by government and private sector leaders?

Judging from Garcia’s exuberant speech to about 1,000 supporters who marched to the Capitol Sunday afternoon of Day 12 she’s ready to spend the Sinulog in her office as well.

The question is: Should the Office of the President and the Garcia clan wait that long to resolve an impasse that has reached absurd lengths?

The need to explore a graceful exit is a conversation that should begin, in the spirit of the new year.

It will take a kind, patient hand to channel Garcia’s raging sense of injustice to the proper venue, the courts of law. Perhaps that’s what Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma tried to do when he made a pastoral visit to the Capitol and met for two hours with Gwen and the family last week.

It’s a start. Ricardo Cardinal Vidal has also remained open to playing the role of peacemaker.

Nobody wants a violent ending but the risk of that goes up the longer the standoff drags on.

The title holder has sworn not to leave the Capitol “over my dead body” till a court reverses the suspension order ­- and that relief may not come at all.

Her oath will not be set aside lightly.

The Court of Appeals is not likely to spit out a temporary restraining order against a decision of the President in an administrative case that is “final and executory,” especially one based on a carefully penned recommendation by the late Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, who lived and breathed good governance.

In the first place, there is nothing more to restrain. The suspension order has been served and acknowledged by the larger world, even if Garcia and her family and followers choose to ignore it.

If it isn’t dismissed outright, a CA hearing or exchange of pleadings could stretch to weeks if not months.

While some actors prefer high drama in the Capitol, the rest of peace-loving Cebuanos just want to move on and settle the hardcore political choices of leadership in the right venue – the May 2013 election.

Cebu province can’t be run by two governors, one acting and the other in denial.

In a prison of her own choosing, Gwen Garcia needs a hand to set her free.

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