Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said he wants the police to remove metal barriers from the Provincial Capitol and pull out uniformed policemen before the Jan. 11 kickoff of the annual Sinulog Festival.
“I do not want (people) to be seeing the Capitol like a garrison or to have the impression that the city is under siege,” said Rama, a staunch ally of suspended Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia.
He said he wants Police Regional Office 7 director Chief Supt. Marcelo Garbo Jr. to stand down at least for the Sinulog.
He relayed this message to acting Cebu City Police Office acting director Senior Supt. Mariano Natu-el.
“I already told Natu-el to take charge and discuss (the matter) with Garbo because I don’t want to see all the policemen and the iron railings there,” he said.
Rama said that since ince the Capitol was located within his territory, his order should be respected.
At least 50 policemen remain deployed in the Capitol to secure the premises at the request of Acting Gov. Agnes Magpale following the Dec. 19 suspension of Garcia, who refuses to leave her office.
On weekends and holidays, the Capitol entrance gate is blocked with barricades while police sentries ask visitors to sign a logbook and submit for physical inspection.
The security measures are relaxed and barriers removed on working days when Capitol employees and the public enter the building to work or transact business.
Rama said he does not see anything wrong with allowing Garcia’s supporters to rally at the Capitol to show their support for her. The mayor’s office issued the permit for the pro-Garcia march-rally of about 1,000 people who gathered in front of the Capitol last Sunday, Dec. 30.
Rama has also visited Garcia’s Capitol office to support her. Both officials belong to the United Nationalist Alliance of Vice President Jejomar Binay.
The mayor said that gatherings are a constitutional right.
“With the Sinulog coming I do not want more policemen seen (at the Capitol) that will create an impression that Cebu City has a peace and order problem. I am not happy that the PRO 7 is coming to the city (taking over the city’s peace and order concerns),” he said.
Rama said he didn’t want the Capitol standoff to affect the Sinulog celebration. /Doris C. Bongcac, Chief of Reporters