MANILA, Philippines—The Court of Appeals (CA) will no longer issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) being sought by Cebu Governor Gwendolyn “Gwen” Garcia against her suspension by Malacañang.
In a three-age resolution issued Thursday, the appellate court’s 12th Division noted that Garcia had admitted she was abandoning her plea for a TRO, which would last only 60 days, and would instead focus on the issuance of a preliminary injunction, which would stop the suspension while the case is being heard.
“[I]n the interest of justice, and to expedite the disposition of the parties’ dispute, the court resolves to forgo any ruling on the incident of TRO /status quo ante order,” the ruling, penned by Justice Vicente Veloso, stated.
The appellate court gave Garcia’s camp until Friday to file her reply to the comment of the Office of the Solicitor General which defended the suspension.
With or without the reply, the case would be submitted for decision, the court said.
The suspension order stemmed from an administrative suit filed by the late Cebu vice governor Gregorio Sanchez Jr., who accused Garcia of usurpation of authority and cutting the budget of his office.
‘Two separate incidents’
Garcia’s camp, however, denied abandoning their plea for the issuance of a TRO as claimed by Justice Veloso.
“Please note that the application for TRO and the application for preliminary injunction are two separate incidents,” said lawyer Cristina Codilla-Frasco, Garcia’s daughter and legal counsel.
“The TRO had already been submitted for resolution on Jan. 10 as declared by Justice Veloso during the hearing on the TRO. He reiterated this in his written order dated Jan. 22,” said Frasco.
Frasco said they had filed a motion asking for time to reply on the preliminary injunction, not on the TRO
“For indeed, how could we possibly file a reply on the TRO when the TRO had already been submitted for resolution? To say that we have abandoned our petition for TRO because we seek to file a reply on the injunction is illogical, unjust, and unfair,” she said.
She said Justice Veloso’s recent resolution makes more evident his “bias and prejudice” against Gov. Garcia.
But Frasco said they have not received the recent resolution from the appellate court.
Garcia’s lawyers instead filed a motion for the inhibition of Justice Velasco, who chairs the CA’s 12th division, saying Veloso demonstrated “undue bias, prejudice, and partiality when he made sweeping statements against Gov. Garcia during the oral arguments of the TRO last month.”
“There has been inordinate delay in the resolution of the application for TRO. The delay in the resolution of the TRO is tainted with political bias seeing that Justice Veloso immediately granted a TRO to Liberal Party member Aga Muhlach on the same day as his hearing while Veloso has delayed and refused to issue a TRO to Garcia of the United Nationalists Alliance,” she said.
The appellate court had stopped a Camarines Sur court from implementing a ruling that directed the Election Registration Board to exclude Muhlach and wife Charlene Gonzales from the area’s list of voters.