Administrator is first casualty of Gwen Garcia return

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CAPITOL workers clean up the governor’s office, occupied for at least six months by Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale as acting governor before Gwendolyn Garcia, who had served a six-month suspension as governor, returns for work. JUNJIE MENDOZA/CEBU DAILY NEWS

CEBU CITY—With barely a week left in her last tenure as governor after her six-month suspension, Gwendolyn Garcia reported back for work with a vengeance, sacking the provincial administrator who enforced an order to lock her out of the governor’s office.

Garcia’s first act upon her return was to issue a memorandum firing Eduardo Habin, provincial administrator who heeded an order by then acting Gov. Agnes Magpale to padlock the governor’s office, where Garcia had holed herself up before making the mistake of leaving the capitol.

Garcia called for a meeting of department heads, but only four were present. The rest are on leave.

The governor refused to grant interviews and made herself scarce to media. She was elected as representative of Cebu province’s third district and will start her term as legislator on June 30, replacing her brother, Pablo John Garcia, who lost in his gubernatorial bid to the Liberal Party’s Hilario Davide III.

The Office of the President suspended Garcia on Dec. 19 last year after finding her guilty of usurpation of authority. Garcia refused to heed the order, holing herself up in the governor’s office.

In the second month of her defiant stance, however, Garcia made the mistake of leaving the capitol on June 30 to go to Oslob town, 117 kilometers south of this city, to inaugurate a briefing center for whale shark watching.

She failed to return to the governor’s office after Habin enforced Magpale’s order to padlock the governor’s office, depriving Garcia of a venue to dramatize her protest against her suspension.

Garcia’s suspension ended on Monday, but she reported back for work on Wednesday.

Aside from her travails over the usurpation of authority case, Garcia also faces trial at the antigraft court Sandiganbayan for a P90-million deal to purchase a piece of property that turned out to be partly underwater.

She has been arraigned for the case and is awaiting the start of trial.

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