MANILA – The Cebu local government is now studying its options on how to evict suspended Governor Gwendolyn Garcia from her office at the provincial capitol.
Garcia has been practically living in her office for the past 16 days since the suspension order was meted out to her last December 19.
Cebu Vice Governor, and current Officer-in-Charge of the province's local government, Agnes Almendras Magpale said they are now evaluating ways and means on how to get Garcia out of the office which Garcia turned into a living quarters.
"I have quite a spectrum of possibilities for my options, but of course I will not telegraph my punches," Magpale said. "Suffice it to say, still, super maximum tolerance, let her stay for the meantime, hoping it will tire her out."
Magpale said that among several options they are now seriously weighing is cutting the water and electricity at the office of the Governor where Garcia stays, or forcibly take her out of the office physically if the need arises.
"There are suggestions to that effect, also cutting water, etc., we are listening, we are doing a day-to-day evaluation," she said.
Garcia for her part said she will not allow herself to be dragged out of the capitol.
"As I said I will stay here and I will defend this office, I will resist any attempt to bodily remove me," she said. "I just hope when that happens, media will be around to record what they are trying to do."
Garcia, an ally of the United Nationalist Alliance of Vice President Jejomar Binay, has refused to leave her office since the suspension and spent the holidays inside the provincial capitol.
"The order is suspension, hindi po removal from office, eh bakit kailangan kaladkarin ako from this office," she said. "If I left this office, I would not put it above them that they will plant so called evidence against me in this office."
Christmas at the capitol
Garcia laments that this is the most difficult Christmas season she has experienced. Her office was not built to become a living quarters, and she has to improvise on everything from sleeping to bathing.
"I don't have a bed here, I sleep on the floor, this has been a learning experience for me, walang shower, tabo-tabo lang," Garcia narrates, "but still, during Christmas and New Year's Eve, my entire family came, and I realized na Christmas is not about the place but about the people".
Garcia was suspended by the Office of the President for an alleged usurpation of authority for an administrative case filed against the Governor in 2010.
Garcia said the complaint has no legal basis to prove that she indeed committed such offense.
She also asserted that there was an irregularity in the timing of the decision made by Malacanang.
"We have pointed time and again, that an administrative charge must only take up 120 days, the decision came 474 days later…So for me, this clearly is a political harassment, coming at a time when elections are just 5 months away,” she said.
When she was suspended, the Department of Interior and Local Government swore in Vice Governor Agnes Almendras Magpale as OIC of Cebu, a Liberal Party ally and sister of Pres. Aquino's Secretary to the Cabinet Jose Almendras.
Garcia said in case the Court of Appeals decide against their petition and prayer for a Temporary Restraining Order or TRO on the suspension, she will continue to stay at her office at all cost.
"We will continue to seek all legal remedies," she said. "And I will stay here."