The 12th division of the Court of Appeals will no longer issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) being sought by Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia to stop Malacañang from suspending her for six months.
In a three-age resolution issued yesterday, the appellate court’s noted that Garcia has stated that she was abandoning her petition for a TRO, which would last only 60 days.
She said she would instead ask for the issuance of a preliminary injunction, which would stop the suspension while the suit 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, said.
The appeals 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 vice governor Gregorio Sanchez Jr., who accused Garcia of usurpation of authority and cutting the budget of his office.
Lawyer Cristina Codilla-Frasco, daughter and legal counsel of Garcia, said they had not abandoned their plea for the issuance of a TRO, contrary to what Justice Veloso stated.
“Please note that the application for TRO and the application for preliminary injunction are two separate incidents,” Codilla-Frasco, a lawyer, said.
“The TRO had already been submitted for resolution on Jan. 10 as declared by Justice Vicente Veloso during the hearing on the TRO. He reiterated this in his written order dated Jan. 22,” she said.
Frasco said they filed a motion asking for time to reply on the question of 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 resolution makes more evident his “bias and prejudice” against her mother.
Veloso said the appellate court had to forego ruling on the TRO after Garcia abandoned the plea and was pressing solely for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction which would hold while the case of her suspension is pending.
Frasco said they have not formally received the resolution from the appelate court.
Garcia’s lawyers have filed a motion for the inhibition of Justice Velasco, the chairman of the CA’s 12th division.
Frasco said Veloso demonstrated “undue bias, prejudice, and partiliaty 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 Muchlach 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 stopped the Camarines Sur Regional Trial 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.
Commenting on the appellate court’s decision, acting Cebu Gov. Agnes Magpale said she welcomes the decision and vows to “faithfully discharge my duties and responsibilities” as the province’s chief executive.
“If true, I welcome such a resolution from the Court of Appeals, basically ‘disregarding’ Gwen’s request for a temporary restraining order. Sa laktod na pagkasulti, there is no TRO. I also welcome the case being decided on the merits,” she said in a statement sent to Cebu Daily News.
“We expect that the suspended governor will fight this resolution from the Court of Appeals, at all expense and with all the lawyers and avenues she can muster. That is her prerogative, and that is what democracy is about.
“As I have said, time and again, I will abide by the rule of law. The case is now in the hands of our courts, and it is for them to decide based on the merits. Meanwhile, I will continue to faithfully discharge my duties and responsibilities as the acting governor of Cebu,” she said./with Renan Alangilan and Doris Bongcac