MANILA—Malacañang appealed to suspended Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia to respect the “process” and “avail of legal remedy” such as seeking a restraining order instead of choosing to defy the suspension order handed down by Malacañang Tuesday.
“We’ve said, time and again, that there is a legal process that is to be followed. All lawyers know that Gov. Gwen Garcia has available legal remedies of which, I think, she has already said that she is planning to avail of,” said deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte in a Palace interview.
She surmised that one possible legal remedy was a restraining order from a “higher court.”
“But, until such time that it is handed down, then we appeal that the decision be respected and the suspension (order) be followed,” she said.
Garcia has refused to vacate her office in the Cebu Capitol in defiance of a six-month suspension order issued against her by Malacañang on Tuesday.
On Thursday morning, at least 65 policemen were deployed at the Capitol grounds in Cebu waiting for further orders.
“This will not necessarily end in something like that,” she said, when asked if Palace would force Garcia to leave the Cebu Capitol.
She echoed Interior Secretary Mar Roxas’ appeal for “calm,” allowing all parties concerned to observe the legal process instead of taking actions that would further aggravate the political situation in the province.
Valte also flatly rejected a claim by the suspended governor that the Palace order had political undertones since Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale is a sister of Secretary to the Cabinet Rene Almendras.
“First of all, let’s remember that this complaint was filed by the former Vice Governor and not the current Vice Governor,” said Valte.
A legal team in the Office of the President had drafted the order that was signed on Dec. 17 by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, and that Almendras had nothing to do with it, she said.
“No, no. Just for your information, there is a unit in the Office of the President that takes care of disciplinary issues. Secretary Almendras is not in any way involved in that process,” she said.
“And for us, for the executive not to investigate, at the very least, what would be their accusation against us? They would say, ‘whitewash.’ If we act on it, they will say, ‘it’s political persecution.’ So, as far as we are concerned, we are doing what the executive is mandated to do,” said Valte.
“Whatever she says as possible—political or an alleged political undertone—will be of no moment because what the court will decide on is the (evidence presented before it). The basis will be the document itself,” said Valte, adding:
Referring to the suspension order of the President, she said “we should just talk about that—the basis, the evidence submitted.”
The Palace will respect any restraining order from the appellate court, if any, said Valte. /INQUIRER