For the second time since she was suspended, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia stepped out of the Capitol Tuesday evening to visit the southern part of Cebu.
She was confident that she would be able to return to her office and resume her stay-in protest.
But the doors of the Governor’s Office were shuttered by police yesterday afternoon reportedly upon the order of acting Gov. Agnes Magpale.
Garcia learned about the incident while fielding questions in the middle of a news conference at Alemar’s Restaurant in Oslob town.
She was speechless for about three seconds before she uttered: “Gi-padlockan na? (Was my office padlocked?)”
Her brother Byron, who was with her in Oslob, stood up to verify the report.
The suspended governor went on saying: “Does she (Magpale) also mean that people who want to visit the Governor’s Office can’t go there anymore? So, let the people judge her.”
“Moadto ko sa katawhan kay mosumbong ko. Mapuno na sa listahan sa akong mga isumbong sa katawhan ang pag-padlock sa opisina sa gobernador nga mao untay dangpanan sa mga katawhan. (I will go to the people and tell them what what was being done to me. One of things that I will report to them is that my office was closed down. The Governor’s Office should have been the refuge of the people),” she said.
Garcia admonished Magpale and warned her that she’ll sue if her personal belongings that were locked inside her office get damaged or stolen.
“If one will be lost, that would be another case of robbery. They were the ones who padlocked my office and they have control of the key,” she said.
She said she had conducted an inventory of all her belongings inside the office.
“As the duly elected governor, I’m entitled to an office. I see no reason why they padlocked my office. There are co-terminus employees there. That is their place of work,” Garcia said.
Her brother, Rep. Pablo John Garcia, said padlocking the Governor’s Office proved Magpale’s hunger for power.
“President Benigno Aquino III earlier stated that there is no stand-off at the Capitol. Magpale also portrayed to the public that there are no disruptions at the Capitol. But Magpale being Magpale, she has a different thing at the back of her mind. If there are no disruption of services at the Capitol and if there is no stand-off, why is it necessary to padlock the Governor’s Office?,” he said.
Pablo John said Magpale is “not trustworthy.”
“That shows that Magpale has a different face when she’s infront of you. But at the back of her mind, she thinks otherwise. She has two faces,” he said.
Pablo John surmised that Magpale feels threatened by Garcia’s continued stay the Governor’s Office.
“If you try to look at it, there are more people who visit Gov. Garcia based on the logbook than those who went to her (Magpale) office,” he said.
Filing a complaint against Magpale for padlocking the Governor’s Office is an option for Garcia’s camp.
Liberal Party gubernatorial candidate Hilario Davide III said Garcia’s act of leaving the provincial capitol is already an indication that she is already conceding to the suspension order directed at her.
In a statement sent to Cebu Daily News, he said Garcia is well aware that the Cebuanos no longer want her at Capitol.
“The fact that Gwen has left the Capitol after more than one month of holding on, means she has conceded the validity of her suspension. (But) what will it make of her statement that she will leave the Governor’s office over her dead body?”
“It is a clear indication of despair on her part as she now feels that the Cebuanos are starting to understand that she is full of hypocrisy and deception,” Davide said.
“Her illegal and arrogant refusal to vacate the office of the governor has been compromising the meager resources of the Capitol.”
Rep. Tomas Osmeña of Cebu City’s south district said he is certain that Garcia will no longer put up a fight and return to the Capitol.
“She’s just going to put up a little show to try to fool the Cebuanos into thinking she’s the victim and then she’ll campaign around the province saying she was kicked out. I will take bets on that,” he said.
Osmeña also reminded Garcia about the promise she made that she will never vacate capitol “over her dead body.”
“But she is still alive (and she already left the Capitol)? “ Osmeña said.
He said that this only goes to show that Garcia cannot be trusted with what she says.
Osmeña said that Garcia made a fool of herself when she refused to heed the suspension order. “Now, she is again making a fool of herself by leaving Capitol,” he said.
State of the padlock
“I think she (Magpale) wants to leave a legacy as the padlocking acting and unelected governor. I think her achievements will be measured by how many padlocks she delivered. The sales of padlocks increased under her tenure. We should await the much-awaited State of the Padlock Address of Acting Gov. Agnes Magpale,” Pablo John said.
Other than the Governor’s Office, he said Magpale also shut down Sugbo TV and the Capitol social hall.
“She (Magpale) said she padlocked the social hall which was made a sleeping quarters by supporters of Gov. Gwen. If that is her line of reasoning, she better padlock her office as well. Her office has been a sleeping quarters of all the programs and projects of the Capitol,” Pablo John said.
“The province is stalled. There are no projects being implemented, no payments made, and no assistance released to the people under Magpale’s tenure,” he said.
Pablo John said her sister is “stepped out of the Governor’s Office but she is never stepping down as governor.”
NO TRO YET
Pablo John yesterday expressed dismay over the failure of the Court of Appeals (CA) 12th division to resolve their petition for a temporary restraining order (TRO) to overturn Garcia’s six-month suspension.
He said the same 12th division of the appellate court granted a TRO to actor Aga Muclach on the same day the oral arguments of the case was made.
The appellate court stopped a Camarines Sur court from implementing a ruling that directed the Election Registration Board to exclude Muchlach and wife Charlene Gonzales from the area’s list of voters.
“Right now it (TRO petition filed by Garcia) has been more than 40 days. Of course, that’s a cause of concern that justice is unfair if you compare the two cases. The CA didn’t even deny our petition. In basketball, it’s like they keep on dribbling the ball,” Pablo John said.
“Of course, our petition is alive. Hope spirngs eternal,” he added.
Rep. Pablo Garcia said the suspension order halts the powers and functions of a governor.
“But her relationship with her constituents has not been suspended. So there is no reason to stop her activities,” he said.
Present during the press conference were Garcia, Pablo John, Pablo, Byron, vice gubernatorial candidate Buboy Durano and Mayor Ronald Guarin.
Garcia said she left the Capitol last Tuesday evening.
“It is now the 43rd day. It is because of the people that I decided to stay in my office at the Capitol. It is also because of the people that I decided to step out of the Capitol,” she said.
Last Saturday, Garcia said the mayors of various towns and cities told her that people have been looking for her.
“I was told that the people missed me. I responded to their request to be with them,” she said.
When asked about her insights of coming out of office, she said “My world suddenly expanded. Before I used to see walls. But now I can see the vastness of Cebu. It appears that I breathe a fresh air of freedom,” she said.
Garcia said she informed Vice President Jejomar Binay about her decision to step out of the Capitol to visit the towns yesterday morning.
She led the opening of a birthing center in Oslob before she proceeded to Alcoy to meet with barangay health workers./with Edison A. Delos Angeles, Renan Alangilan and Christine Emily L. Pantaleon