Capitol standoff ‘like playing a chess game’

Posted on December 23, 2012


IT’S like playing a chess game.”

In a Rappler interview, this is how Chief Supt. Marcelo Garbo Jr., regional police chief, summed up the political situation in Cebu, following the suspension of Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia.

Garbo oversees police operations in the Provincial Capitol where Garcia remains holed up for the past four days.

Acting Governor Agnes Magpale said she left it up to Garbo to decide on the possible physical eviction of Garcia from office. She said she ordered “super maximum tolerance.”

“This is a chess game. Whatever moves they (Garcia camp) make, if there is a threat, based on my experience as a police officer, we will have the corresponding action. It depends on developments and what they do,” Garbo told Rappler on Friday.

“Everything is volatile.”

Garbo, however, said he is not the one ultimately calling the shots.

“The order [to remove Garcia] will come from the national [government]. All our actions are from the national, the DILG,” he said in reference to the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

The Police Regional Office (PRO) director made the statement after a tense night in the Capitol Thursday.

Garcia family members were alerting allies and rallying public support through Twitter, saying that the police and military were about to “physically remove” Gwen from her office that night.

No eviction occurred. A standoff continues after Garcia vowed to be removed “over my dead body.”

Garbo admitted there are negotiations between the Garcia camp and the DILG on the eviction.

Asked if there is a plan to remove Garcia, Garbo said, “There’s always a plan. You plan for a worst-case scenario. This is part of maintaining peace and order.”

Sources in government and the political circle told Rappler the DILG is not likely to order Garcia’s eviction until after Christmas.

The Office of the President suspended Garcia on December 17 as a penalty for grave abuse of authority in an administrative case filed in 2010 by then Vice Gov. Gregorio Sanchez Jr., who died five months after.

Garcia was found to have bypassed Sanchez and the Provincial Council in hiring contractual employees and reducing the budget of the vice governor’s office by 61 percent because he was not her political ally.

Garcia has questioned her suspension before the Court of Appeals, saying it violated proper procedure for the handling of administrative cases.

She said the suspension was “illegal” and a “power grab.” She is a member of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance of Vice President Jejomar Binay, the bitter rival of Interior Secretary Mar Roxas. Roxas is president on leave of the ruling Liberal Party.

Magpale, sister of Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, is an LP member.

On Friday, Capitol department heads met with her to support Magpale and recognize her mandate. They rejoiced when Magpale and the treasurer announced a P30,000 Christmas bonus for all provincial employees, which is higher than last year’s P20,000 bonus.

Just a day ago, the same officials met with Garcia who claimed then that they were still behind her.

“It has been a tension-filled week and this morning’s meetings with the department heads healed everything. We call this press conference to show to you we are moving forward in serving the province of Cebu,” Magpale said in a press conference.

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