MANILA, Philippines – Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia is set to question her suspension by President Benigno Aquino III before the appellate court.
Garcia and her camp stayed overnight at the Cebu Provincial Capitol in an attempt to prevent Vice Governor Agnes Magpale from taking over her seat. Her suspension order was served yesterday.
"I will leave it to my lawyers, they are looking at the CA (Court of Appeals)," Garcia told Umagang Kay Ganda, referring to the court where she plans to seek temporary relief from.
Garcia is questioning the legality of the suspension order, noting that it was served way beyond the prescribed period set by the Local Government Code.
The embattled governor said under the Local Government Code Section 66, the president must render a decision 30 days after the end of an investigation.
Garcia said the decision to suspend her was only rendered on December 17 even if the investigation ended in August 2011.
The suspension stemmed from the complaint filed by the late Vice Governor Gregorio Sanchez Jr., charging Garcia of withholding the budget for his office. Garcia also allegedly did not act on a petition for the contract renewal of 57 employees in the vice-governor's office.
Garcia also lamented the timing of the serving of the suspension order.
"The timing is very suspect. Not only is it nearing 6 months time when most of the courts will be closed during the holidays, it's very near the coming elections that is in May," she said.
"And according to this suspension order, I am to be suspended for six months – that is practically the rest of my term."
The government has denied that politics is at play in the suspension of Garcia, who is seeking a seat in the House of Representatives in 2013.
Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO) Secretary Ricky Carandang welcomed Garcia’s move to question Malacañang’s decision to suspend her for 6 months.
“If the process was indeed not followed and there were lapses on the part of the DILG, then the best thing to do right now, which is exactly what she did, is to bring it to court. The court will see very quickly that the process was not followed and it will issue a decision,” he said.
“If the process was not followed, the governor has nothing to fear. In the meantime, there is a presumption of regularity and she should step down, file for a [temporary restraining order] and if the process was not followed, it is only a matter of time when the court will say rules were not followed,” he added.