Two gatherings in Cebu City today will show the strength of supporters and critics of suspended Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia.
Police said they will exercise maximum tolerance in dealing with her supporters when they hold a prayer rally at the Capitol grounds, the second demonstration there since she went out to address a Dec. 30 rally of about 1,000 people.
At 3 p.m., the Liberal Party in Cebu will celebrate Mass at Our Lady of Sacred Heart parish in barangay Capitol to pray that the “rule of law” will prevail.
Tomorrow, oral arguments will be heard in the Court of Appeals in Manila on Garcia’s petition to stop Malacañang from suspending her for six months.
The hearing will be held behind closed doors.
The church is about 400 meters away from the Capitol where Garcia’s supporters will march from Fuente Osmeña.
“Everybody has a right (to a peaceful assembly). I just hope that it will be done in an orderly manner,” acting Gov. Agnes Magpale told reporters.
Police on crowd control duty will not carry guns, said a ranking police official.
A rally permit was issued for the pro-Garcia rally.
Rafael Yap, head of Cebu City Traffic Operations Management (Citom), said they authorized Garcia’s supporters to use the inner lane of Osmeña Boulevard when they walk to the Capitol.
A group called the Cebu Aspiring Sector applied for the permit and asked for a road closure from 12 noon to 11 p.m. for a prayer rally but Yap said be was not recommending a road closure “because that is not a good time to close the roads.”
Chief Supt. Marcelo Garbo, chief of the Central Visayas police, said his men are enforcing “super maximum tolerance” per instruction of Magpale.
“We allow rallies as long as they are peacefully conducted,” he said.
Garbo, who is in Manila to call on PNP Director-General Alan Purisima, designated Senior Supt. Orlando Ualat to prepare the security plan for today’s mass actions.
Supt. Paul Labra II, chief of the regional police intelligence division, said the police will be augmented by about a hundred military personnel.
“Whether there’s a permit or not, the police are already prepared for whatever will happen,” he said.
Rule of law
Lawyer Democrito Barcenas, an LP Cebu spokesman, said their their activity is solely a litugical celebration.
“There will be no rally. We are praying for the rule of law,” he told CDN.
Barcenas said they want to avoid a clash between their group and Garcia’s supporters.
“But I’m willing to accept Byron Garcia’s challenge for a fistfight,” he quipped.
Barcenas said the Mass will be attended by LP volunteers and several cause-oriented groups.
“We’re praying for the enlightenment of the justices,” acting Gov. Magpale said.
As this developed, Provincial Board Member Arleigh Sitoy has asked Provincial Administrator Eduardo Habin to remove pro-Gwen placards near the entrance of the Governor’s Office removed for being eyesores.
“This constitutes littering” he told CDN.
“The Capitol is not Smokey Mountain where people can just freely litter, vandalize or even squat in defiance of the rule of law,” he said, referring to the famous garbage dumpsite in Manila’s slum.
One of the placards which was used in the Dec. 30 rally shows a caricature of acting Gov. Magpale with the words, “Gusto Ko Mopuli” printed. Another poster shows Garcia’s picture when she took her oath as governor, with a tagline that says “Only One Elected Governor of Cebu, Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia”.
A third poster shows a photo of Garcia shaking hands with her supporters on the day the suspension order was served on Dec. 19. It has a tagline that reads: “No to MAR-tial Law!”. /Edison A. Delos Angeles, Carmel Loise Matus, Chito A. Aragon, Jucell Marie P. Cuyos and Ador Vincent Mayol