MANILA, Philippines - There is no political harassment in President Benigno Aquino III's six-month suspension of Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, Malacanang said on Thursday.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda also told reporters that innuendoes from the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) “[fell] flat” on their faces because the administration has "so much credibility.”
In reference to Liberal Party president Mar Roxas, UNA said yesterday the people of Cebu know that “Mar-tial” law is already being implemented there due to the harassment received by their ally in the hands of Liberal Party stalwarts.
Lacierda claimed that Cebu is up and running. "The martial law scenario is only in the minds of those who mounted that propaganda, the business of governance continues in Cebu."
Asked to differentiate Garcia's suspension from the previous suspensions of local officials, he only said, "the big difference is the credibility of the Aquino administration."
Lacierda was reminded that President Aquino's mother, former President Cory Aquino, supported then Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay's defiance of his suspension by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
He refuted observations that the administration has double standards in imposing disciplinary actions on local officials who are allied with the administration and those allied with the opposition.
Lacierda stressed that they have always encouraged Garcia to secure a restraining order from the Court of Appeals. Garcia remains holed up at her office, waiting for a halt order from the appellate court.
Lacierda noted that Caloocan Mayor Recom Echiverri was able to secure one when he was about to be suspended.
He also dismissed comparisons between Garcia's case and the case of Comelec Commissioner Grace Padaca, who was escorted by Roxas when she posted bail before the Sandiganbayan.
Lacierda said it was the anti-graft court that should be asked why its arrest order was not implemented.
Echiverri and Padaca are both members of Aquino's Liberal Party, while Garcia is with Binay's UNA.
Lacierda also shrugged off former President Joseph Estrada’s criticism that Garcia’s suspension was un-Christian since it came during the holiday season. He said there was just an order that needed to be implemented.
Meanwhile, he also dismissed the Garcia family's criminal case against Roxas and some local PNP officials for the alleged theft of some rented tents outside the provincial capitol. "Everyone knows a criminal offense is committed personally."
He expressed doubts that the case will prosper unless they have proof that Roxas personally stole the tents.