Padlocking Gwen Garcia's office illegal, says lawyer

Posted at Jan 30 2013 05:52 PM | Updated as of Jan 31 2013 01:56 AM

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MANILA, Philippines -- Padlocking the office of suspended Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia is illegal, her lawyer insisted Wednesday.

"The act of padlocking the governor's office is illegal. First, because as we have maintained from the very beginning, the suspension is illegal. Second, because we filed a petition before the Court of Appeals which is now still under adjudication," Garcia's daughter and lawyer Christina Frasco told ANC.

Acting Cebu Governor Agnes Magpale ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to padlock Garcia's office at the capitol at around 2 p.m. while the suspended governor was away.

Garcia left the provincial capitol Tuesday night and reportedly spent the night in her house.

She then attended an inauguration of a training center in Oslob town, which is about 100 kilometers away from Cebu City.

Frasco said Garcia just left the capitol to continue performing her duties as the governor of Cebu.

She insisted Garcia is still the incumbent governor of the province and Magpale is merely in an acting capacity and therefore has no right to issue such an order to padlock Garcia's office.

"Governor Gwen Garcia is the incumbent governor of Cebu. A public official that is merely in an acting capacity is not an incumbent. The person originally elected to that position is the incumbent," she said.

Frasco insisted that the suspension of Garcia was illegal, saying that the only way for her to be validly removed from her office is through a court order.

"Therefore, she has the right to return to her office...precisely because she has not been removed but has been merely illegally suspended," she said.

She claimed this is clearly a case of "political harassment and a continued abuse of government resources."

"Our only disadvantage is that we are not members of the ruling party," she added.

ANC News Now, January 30, 2013