Gwen to seek relief even after TRO bid

Posted on January 3, 2013

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If the Court of Appeals doesn’t issue a temporary restraining order to stop the suspension of Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, her camp is prepared to take the legal battle to a higher court.

“If a temporary restraining order is not issued, it is not the end of the road for us,” said her daughter and lawyer Christina Codilla Frasco yesterday, hinting of a longer fight ahead.

No TRO has been issued since the filing of their petition on Dec. 19. The Court of Appeals 12th division in Manila has scheduled to hear orgal arguments of the parties on Jan. 10.

The court earlier asked the Office of the Solitictor General to comment on Garcia’s petition for a TRO against the order of the Office of the President suspending Garcia for six months.

Frasco said they filed an opposition yesterday to the OSG comment that the decision of the President in an adminstrative case is “final and executory” and that an appeal does not stay its execution under the Local Government Code.

Frasco said they still expect the appellate court to issue a TRO.

“A plain examination of the facts, the law, and the merits of this case will convince even the ordinary man in the streets that no crime was committed by Governor Gwen and the Office of the President clearly abused its power to suspend her,” she said.

“The decision to issue a TRO is really entirely up to them (CA 12th division justices). We pray that our TRO will be granted,” said Frasco.

Frasco, a senior associate of the Makati-based law firm Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc and de los Angeles that handles the petition, said they won’t give up their fight.

“Governor Garcia expressed since day one that she will exhaust all legal remedies are available to her. If the petition for the issuance of a TRO will be denied, its not the end of the road for us,” she said.

Asked if her mother will continue to physically occupy the Governor’s Office while they go to court, instead of comply with the order, she said, “we will cross the bridge when we get there.”

Earl Bonachita, president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Cebu City chapter, said all decisions of the Office of the President are “final and executory” as stated under section 67 of the Local Government Code.

But Bonachita said Garcia can avail of a legal remedy before the CA or the Supreme Court.

Unless the aggrieved party obtains a TRO, Bonachita said the suspension order against Garcia is deemed implemented. Asked if Garcia was upholding “the rul of law” by ignoring the suspension, Bonachita declined to comment.

“The judiciary is empowered by the Constitution to review actions of public officials,” he said.

Frasco opposed the OSG statement that there was no flagrant abuse of power in suspending Garcia.

She said the Office of the President has 30 days after an investigation to render a decision.

“They are implementing the suspension barely five months before the elections,” Frasco said.

She said Acting Gov. Agnes Magpale should have been the substitute of the late Vice Gov. Gregorio Sanchez who filed the case against Garcia.

For a TRO to be issued, Frasco said there should be a “clear and unmistakable right on the part of the petitioner and this right has been violated, and there should be urgency in the situation otherwise there will be irreparable injury.”

“This six months suspension is harsh. There is no question there. Because what is involved here is not a crime of corruption, illegal gambling, or any crime involving moral turpitude,” she said.

Frasco cited the case of Kalinga Gov. Jocel Baac who was suspended for one month after being caught on video barging into a radio station and hitting a broadcaster with a microphone.

Baac is a member of the administration Liberal Party.

“He (Baac) was caught on video telling the broadcaster ‘Talk again and I will kill you.’ This is a clear case of crime, physical assault and grave threats,” Frasco said. /Ador Vincent Mayol, Reporter

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