MANILA, Philippines – Acting Cebu Governor Agnes Magpale on Monday defended her brother, cabinet secretary Jose Rene Almendras, from allegations that he helped her secure the province's highly coveted post.
Magpale, who replaced suspended governor Gwendolyn Garcia, said her brother does not even talk to her whenever he visits Cebu.
"My brother, Sec. Rene, is so apolitical. As a matter of fact, he refuses to talk to me kapag nandito siya sa Cebu. I have been in politics for 20 years. I have been here as vice governor long before he became Cabinet secretary," Magpale told ANC.
The acting governor also noted that the decision to suspend Garcia was already arrived at during the time of the late Interior secretary Jesse Robredo, dismissing claims that the ruling Liberal Party cooked it up just in time for the 2013 elections.
Garcia said the 6-month suspension was a tactic by the ruling LP to gain influence in the vote-rich province of Cebu.
Garcia belongs to the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) coalition, led by Vice President Jejomar Binay and former president Joseph Ejercito Estrada.
Magpale assured Garcia and her supporters that she will step down from the post once the Court of Appeals issues a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the suspension order.
"Kung makakauha ng TRO, ako ang bababa. Hindi ako tatawag ng tao to rally behind me – not a minute longer," she said.
Magpale belongs to the Barug Alang sa Kauswagan ug Demokrasya (Bakud), a local party allied with LP.
The LP earlier said it is set to file 16 more cases against Garcia, who 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.
The party spokesman in Cebu, Atty. Democrito Barcenas, said they are now in the process of drafting the charges such as grave misconduct and malversation for eventual filing before the Office of the Ombudsman.
Barcenas said one of the charges is in connection with the alleged illegal use of tourist buses owned by the local government to transport Garcia's supporters during the January 9 prayer rally where
At least 5,000 of Garcia's supporters from various districts of Cebu came to the city in buses to show their support for the embattled governor.
Apart from the case involving the tourist buses, the LP will also file a case against Garcia for not honoring the suspension order issued by Pres. Aquino.
Garcia may also face raps for issuing a memorandum a day after her suspension order was issued. The supposed memo ordered capitol employees and officials not to recognize Magpale as acting governor.