Palace: Suspension has popular support of Cebu
MANILA, Philippines - The three stalwarts of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) flew to Cebu on Sunday to give their “total support at all cost” to suspended Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia.
Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and former President Joseph Estrada arrived via chartered plane at around 11 a.m. in Cebu and went directly to the provincial capitol where Garcia has been holed up for the fourth day now.
They were welcomed by Garcia’s supporters who also trooped there early Sunday morning. The supporters said they are willing to spend Christmas there with Garcia.
Estrada questioned the timing of the suspension, especially since it came just days before Christmas, while both Binay and Enrile said the administration should follow the rule of law.
Garcia, a member of UNA, was found guilty of grave abuse of authority in connection with administrative charges filed against her by the late Cebu Vice Governor Greg Sanchez Jr. in 2010. Sanchez had accused Garcia of allegedly diverting the province's budget for different shady contracts.
Garcia, who already questioned the ruling of the Department of Interior and Local Government before the Court of Appeals, said the case has already been dropped given the rules on prescription.
In Malacanang, meanwhile, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda encouraged Garcia to also “follow the rule of law.” He told radio dzRB that the suspension is not anymore “preventive” in nature, but a decision by the government itself.
“We ask her to follow the rule of law. Until such time that the CA has acted upon [her petition]…we encourage her to follow the legal processes,” Lacierda said.
He noted Malacanang has received information that Cebu is very much supportive of the suspension. He assured the people there that they are monitoring the situation closely and that public service will not be affected.
Asked for the impact of the presence of Estrada in Cebu, Lacierda said: “Let’s wait for his statement, it’s too early for me to say anything, but we hope they will encourage her to follow the rule of law.”
Some quarters are claiming that the suspension was a political decision and a move to temper the UNA’s influence in Cebu. Lacierda said, however, that even the members of the administration Liberal Party has had some shares of penalties from the government. – with reports from June Perez and Dexter Ganibe, dzMM