MANILA, Philippines – A day after she was locked out of her own office at the provincial capitol, suspended Cebu governor Gwendolyn Garcia scored the Court of Appeals for its inaction on her petition for an injunction.
Garcia, a member of the Jejomar Binay-led United Nationalist Alliance, noticed that unlike in her case, the appellate court's 12th Division was quick to issue a 60-day temporary restraining order (TRO) against the exclusion of Camarines Sur Liberal Party congressional bet Aga Muhlach from the province's voters' list.
The CA earlier said it granted Muhlach's appeal because of urgency and timeliness, and the right to vote cannot be disenfranchised for "flimsy" reasons. It also noted that Muhlach risks disqualification by the Comelec if the RTC's order to exclude is not restrained.
Garcia's camp filed a petition before the same division asking for the issuance of either a temporary restraining order or a status quo ante order.
The petition cited alleged "grave irreparable damage" on the part of Garcia because of her 120-day suspension, which was served December 17, 2012. Oral arguments were held last January 10.
"Napakatagal ng resolution. In contrast, may isang case po na right after the oral arguments, kaagad-agad lumabas ang TRO. Siguro ang kaibahan lang namin eh I don't belong to the ruling party. I'm talking about the petition of Aga Muhlach. Pagkatapos ng oral arguments, that afternoon, may TRO na," Garcia told dzMM.
Acting Cebu governor Agnes Magpale on Wednesday ordered the locking of the office of Garcia, who left the capitol to attend an event in Oslob town.
Garcia had been staying in her office at the capitol for over a month, defying the President Benigno Aquino III's suspension order.
Magpale said she had to order the locking since Garcia's employees and supporters were already disrupting the capitol's operations.
"Actually I've been tolerating her presence there for the past one month and 11 days. Eh sobra na po ang ginagawa niya…Lalabas siya, mangangampanya. Tapos babalik siya dito. Ginawa na niyang parang hotel ang capitol building," Magpale told ANC on Wednesday.
"'Yun ngang adjacent offices that used to be the old session hall in-occupy ng kanyang mga supporters, doon natutulog, naglalaba na sila dun."
Garcia, for her part, said Magpale has no right to order the locking of her office. She argued that she remains the duly elected governor of the province, and that Magpale is merely holding power in an acting capacity.
"Hindi ko po alam kung ano ang ibig sabihin ng pag-abuso ng opisina. Kasi ang opisina ay nagagamit para sa mga tao. That office is open to our people. That is the purpose of the office - na iyung mga tao ay mapupuntahan," she said.
"Parang siya (Magpale) na ang law eh. Itong suspension order eh meron pa tayong pina-raise na case sa Court of Appeals… Magpale is doing this kasi alam niya she is powerful, alam niya she belongs to the party in power."
The suspension stemmed from an administrative complaint filed by Vice Governor Gregorio Sanchez in 2010.
Sanchez has since died and replaced by Magpale, then the top board member. Magpale is the sister of Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras. – with RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News