The political stalemate in this most progressive central Philippine city of Cebu is starting to get out of hand as supporters of its beleaguered mayor have garrisoned the city hall to keep servers of a suspension order from entering.
Gov. Gwen Garcia, on her final term, has been suspended by President Benigno S. Aquino III, through the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) after he was found to have abused her authority for failing to release the funds of the provincial legislature during the time of the late former vice-governor Gregorio Sanchez Jr.
The allegations that led to the suspenjcion included encroachment of legislative powers, grave misconduct, and abuse of authority.
Garcia, however, questioned the suspension because the Local Government Code requires the resolution of administrative cases within 120 days, but the order was issued only after more than two years, long after the Sanchez, the complainant, died.
As a result, incumbent vice governor Agnes Magpale was installed as acting governor.
Garcia and Magpale belong to the One Cebu Party, which is affiliated with the PDP-Laban Party, a chief competitor of Liberal Party (LP), the President’s group, and the principal party of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) coalition.
Magdale, a scion of the powerful Durano-Almendras clan, continues to hold office at her legislative cubicle at the provincial capital.
Garcia is running for Congress in the 2013 elections against Hilario Davide III, an LP stalwart and son of former Supreme Court chief justice and namesake Hilario Davide Sr., who was the President’s top choice in 2010 to head the controversial but declared unconstitutional Truth Commission.
Already, PDP-Laban chief and vice president Jejomar Binay, along with his political allies, have flown to Cebu to support the embattled governor, who remained holed up inside the City Hall.
In a statement, Davide III challenged Garcia, saying that “if she’s really without fault, she should not be worried,” adding that she should “the process [of law should be allowed to] run its course; we all have to bow before the law.”
“She gathers her political allies and displays the wanton disregard for law and order, and the attachment to power, that has plagued Philippine politics, and is only now slowly being cast out by the reform administration of President Aquino,” he stressed.
Davide said the actuation of Garcia is the kind of behavior the President has strongly fought to be removed from the bureaucracy, and “the UNA brand of politics is diametrically opposed to the agenda of change that every Filipino… is trying to espouse.”
He challenged Cebuano residents to fight traditional politicians, remove the barricade put up around the city hall and allow the people to judge those who are fit to run through the ballot in next year’s elections.”
For his part, vice-president Binay, who was quoted in numerous publications, labeled the suspension “a political move.”