Will Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal stay neutral and be available to mediate in the Capitol impasse?
Yes, but only if all parties in the dispute ask him to step in, said Gricelda “Gigi” Sanchez-Zaballero.
Last Saturday afternoon, it was the turn of Zaballero, daughter of the late vice governor Gregorio Sanchez Jr., to visit the prelate or two days after Rep. Pablo Garcia went to see Vidal.
Zaballero said she went to see the 81-year-old prelate at his home in Sto. Niño Village to thank Vidal because he had visited her ailing father, in the last weeks of his battle against lung cancer, from which he died in April 2011.
Zaballero, a civil engineer, is running for a seat in the Provincial Board under the Liberal Party, the same post where her father started his political career, in 1986 after the EDSA revolt.
She said she looked up to Vidal as a source of spiritual guidance and went to air her side of the administrative case against Gov. Gwen Garcia, whose six-month suspension by the Office of the President on Dec. 19 was the penalty stemming from the late vice governor’s complaint for usurpation and grave abuse of authority.
Her father suffered much, she said, when Gwen slashed the budget of the vice governor’s office by 61 percent in 2010, and took over the appointing powers over his staff employees and those of the Provincial Board.
It was Zaballero who pursued the administrative case in the Office of the President as a promise to her cancer-stricken father on his deathbed.
She said Vidal made clear that he is only willing to mediate if the opposing parties agree to his playing this role.
“Dili siya mo-take sides but he is willing to help in a mediation if ever both parties are amenable to it,” Zaballero said.
However, she said she did not ask the prelate to initiate a dialog with Garcia, as this was not her purpose for visiting him.
She said Vidal mentioned that the father of Garcia, Rep. Pablo Garcia, had visited him two days ahead of her.
Zaballero said she was not privy to their conversation, neither did she ask about it.
“Usa siya sa akong gitan-aw nga angayang masayod sa tanan, gipakita nako what the case is all about, in chronological order – when it was filed, when the hearings were conducted, everything,” she said.
(Vidal is one person, I look up to as someone who should know the whole picture. I presented to him the case – in chronological order…)
They also talked about Vidal’s role as peacemaker and how he was instrumental in persuading then President Estrada to step down in a peaceful exit that defused Edsa 2.
“Sa kang Erap, the Cardinal played a very important role sa pag-pacify ba kaniadto”, she recalled.
Zaballero said the visit last Saturday was her own initiative but that she relayed the conversation to Acting Gov. Agnes Mapgale.
Zaballero said she believes that Cebuanos want the standoff in the Capitol to be resolved peacefully since the people are peace-loving.
Meanwhile, lawyer Democrito Barcenas advised the police and Magpale not to physically remove Garcia from office.,
The chairman of the Noy-Mar Volunteers Group in Cebu in the last election, explained that if the police will use force to get Garcia, the suspended governor can use this in her favor and she can portray herself as martyr.
“It’s not good to fall into the trap of Garcia. Kung pugson gyud siya, mag-andam nang media diha unya i-flash na ang iyang nawong nga naghilak-hilak ug makita sa tibuok Pilipinas, nag-create na sila og usa ka martyr,”, Barcenas said.
(If they force her out, the media cameras are ready to take her photo crying. The whole country will see it, she may be considered by some as a martyr.)
Find other ways, he said, since Garcia has no more powers as governor and can be allowed to occupy the Capitol office “but she has to pay all the bills for her stay there.
Barcenas said he also believes Garcia can’t get a TRO from the Court of Appeals because the court ready asked the Office of the Solicitor General to comment on her petition. /Jhunnex Napallacan, Correspondent