by Malou Guazon Apalisok
The political drama in the Capitol enters its 15th day today after suspended Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia holed herself up in her office in defiance of an order signed by President Benigno Aquino III suspending her from office for six months.
The case stemmed from an administrative charge filed by the late vice governor Greg Sanchez in November 2010. In his complaint, Sanchez accused Garcia of abusing her authority by, among others, slashing the budget of the vice governor by 61 percentand encroaching on the authority of the complainant over employees of the said office.
Local officials are under the authority of the Office of the President and if this were a regular court, the President acted as judge. The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), which is tasked to implement the order is the court sheriff.
Let us say the judge handed a decision to evict squatters sitting on private property and there being no temporary restraining order from the higher court that would restrict the resolution, the judge will see to it that the court order be carried out. This part of the judicial process falls on the office of the court sheriff, who guided by previous experiences, expects a violent confrontation. He seeks the assistance of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to help him execute the judgment of the court.
In Davao City last year, Mayor Sarah Duterte punched the court sheriff who tried to serve the eviction order slapped by a local court against informal settlers in Agdao district. She was trying to ask the sheriff to hold the demolition order while the lawyers for the informal settlers tried to exhaust all legal means, but the police-backed demolition group started tearing down the shanties when the mayor arrived. As she landed four punches on the face of the unfortunate court employee, the police watched helplessly.
In a more sober setting, policemen don’t want to cross a local chief executive unless they want to be shipped out to Jolo for their next and immediate assignment. Police officials would rather stay in the sidelines of costly political battles and wait for things to subside than be a player in the impasse.
But in the current Capitol controversy, Police Regional Director Marcelo Garbo Jr. of Central Visayas has no choice. He has a job to do.
Two weeks ago, policemen trying to secure the Capitol premises figured in a ruckus with Pablo “Paolo” Garcia III and two of his friends after a vigil Mass held inside the government premises. The son of the embattled governor and two close buddies, Tonyson Lee and Joey Cal reportedly hit Insp. Alvino Enguito in the nape while the barking orders were to remove the tents put up by Garcia supporters inside the Capitol premises.
As a result, Paolo Garcia filed robbery cases against DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, Garbo and two other members of the PNP. Police fought back by filing assault charges against Garcia, Lee and Cal.
Days later, the travel agency owned by the father of Tonyson Lee in Mandaue City was strafed by motorcycle-riding men. People who watch a lot of Hollywood movies say that in the reel world, policemen will not countenance insults or bodily harm inflicted on one of their own.
Perhaps anticipating this type of perception, the PRO 7 chief said the strafing could have been orchestrated by the young Garcia and his friends to invite public sympathy. Garbo has questioned the business documentation of the Garcia-owned security agency and the agenda of Paulo Garcia’s Airsoft group in the coming elections.
Tension rose at the Capitol after it was reported that a number of Special Weapons and Tactics (Swat) personnel were sent to the Capitol before dawn of Monday. Earlier, on Sunday afternoon some 1,000 people gathered in front of the Capitol to show their support for the suspended governor. Garbo did not mince words in describing the rally. “Kawawa lang sila. Klarong-klaro na hakot crowd,” the police general said.
Chief Supt. Garbo is being groomed for a higher position in Camp Crame but he cannot leave Cebu with unfinished business. He needs to implement the executive instruction of Garcia’s suspension and in the face of her unyielding stance, he could be looking at forcible removal as the only option.
Will Garbo do it?
Rep. Pablo Garcia (Cebu, 2nd district) has pointed out that minus a written order from the DILG, the police official could face grave charges like kidnapping and this could carry a string of administrative liabilities if he proceeds with the plan.
What if the DILG directive, aired verbally, went something like, “Do what you need to do”?
Will Garbo still do it?