Palace: Garcia departure ends standoff

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10:54 PM January 31st, 2013

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By: TJ Burgonio, January 31st, 2013 10:54 PM

Suspended Gov Gwen Garcia CDN PHOTO

Malacañang on Thursday expressed relief over suspended Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia’s mistake of sneaking out of the provincial capitol, saying it ended a potentially costly standoff.

Edwin Lacierda, one of President Aquino’s spokespersons, said the decision by acting Gov. Agnes Magpale to lock Garcia out “settles the issue” of whether the suspended governor should be allowed to continue occupying the governor’s office in defiance of a Palace order that suspended her.

“The issue will move from the provincial capitol to the courts as it should,” said Lacierda.

“This is now a legal case. From the very start, we hold that the suspension has validity and it will stand legal scrutiny,” he said.

Garcia had announced she will be made to leave the Capitol only “over my dead body.” She tried to drum up support by reporting through her Twitter account that Malacañang planned to bodily remove her from the capitol.

Malacañang, however, said Garcia had just been imagining things and that there was no plan to physically remove her.

The opportunity to end the standoff came when Garcia sneaked out late Tuesday to attend the inauguration of a briefing center of the Oslob Whale Watching Program in Oslob town.

While she was out, Magpale ordered provincial administrator Eduardo Habin to padlock her office on Wednesday.

Malacañang ordered Garcia’s relief from office for usurping the powers of her then vice governor, the late Gregorio Sanchez. Garcia had appealed the order at the Court of Appeals.

Prior to being locked out, Garcia left her office on Jan. 20 to join the Sinulog Grand Parade at the Cebu City Sports Center grandstand and was able to return.

“Since the Office of the Governor is being turned into a laundry area according to Governor Magpale and since former Governor Garcia left the office, I understand, stealthily, or surreptitiously, it was deemed by acting Governor Magpale best to just close the office,” Lacierda said.

Magpale said she had been tolerating Garcia’s presence in the Capitol for over a month.

She said Garcia’s supporters turned the capitol’s offices into sleeping quarters, and did their laundry there.

In Cebu City, Magpale said she would move into the governor’s office as soon as an inventory of pieces of furniture, equipment, supplies and pieces of government property there has been completed.

In a press conference in Cebu City, Garcia said she will not force her way back into the Capitol but will move around the towns of the province to make the people aware about what she said is the injustice being committed against her. With a report by Jhunnex Napallacan, Inquirer Visayas

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