SUSPENDED Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said she remains “hopeful” the Court of Appeals 12th Division would rule in her favor while her lawyer-daughter Christina Frasco said she was happy with the proceedings yesterday.
However, two other lawyers, including one present in the hearing yesterday to represent Acting Gov. Agnes Magpale, said chances were “dim” that a Temporary Retraining Order would be issued.
“They are still going to sit down and discuss that. That’s not the end of it. We’re waiting for the resolution,” said Garcia of the three-member court division.
She said she wanted things to “go back to normal” and emphasized that if a TRO is issued she would review the “reckless” actions of Acting Gov. Agnes Magpale such has the temporarily closure of the province-owned cable TV station Sugbo TV and newsletter Sugbo News.
“We hope we could put things back to normal. The image of Cebu that has become so badly tarnished will be refurbished.”
Magnificus Cañete, legal counsel of acting Governor Magpale, attended the oral arguments at the Court of Appeals in Manila yesterday as an observer.
The proceedings started at 10:15 a.m. and ended at 12:35 noon.
Cañete said Garcia’s lead counsel, Tranquil Salvador clearly presented their arguments “but they were given a hard time by the CA justices. In my understanding, they have slight chances in securing a TRO,” Canete told Cebu Daily News last night.
In a radio interview, Canete said he was sent to Manila by Magpale to give her immediate feedback if a TRO is issued. He repeated Magpale’s promise that if the court issues a TRO, she would immediately vacate her post.
The Office of the Solicitor General was represented by three lawyers led by Sarah Fernandez. They asked the court for three days to submit a memorandum of their arguments but Garcia’s lawyer objected, insisting on an immediate resolution of the TRO petition, according to Cañete.
The court denied the OSG’s request and submitted the petition for resolution.
“Maybe, the resolution will come out tomorrow (Friday, Jan. 11) afternoon,” Cañete said.
In a separate interview, Dean Jonathan Capanas of the University of San Jose-Recoletos’ College of Law, said the chances of Garcia securing a TRO were slim.
“There’s a remote possibility for her (Garcia) to get a TRO. The nature of the petition is urgent but the urgency has died down since it took sometime before the court ruled on the issue,” Capanas said.
He said a TRO is intended to preserve the status quo while the merits of a case are deliberated in court. But in the Cebu governor’s case, her suspension was already deemed served.
“The problem now is that the suspension order was implemented; the vice governor has assumed her post as acting governor; and the province has been operating under the acting governor,” Capanas said.
“A TRO is possible. But as time passes by, the chances are dim,” Capanas said.
“Since the appellate court called for oral arguments, it means that the arguments presented by both camps are heavy,” he said.
The appellate court’s 12th division is composed of Associate Justices Vicente Veloso, Eduardo Peralta Jr., and Aurora Jane Lantion.
Lawyer Democrito Barcenas, a Liberal Party (LP) spokesman in Cebu, said he was confident no TRO would be served.
“There’s nothing to restrain anymore. The order from the Office of the President is final and executory. The facts and the law are on our side ,” he said.
Once the TRO is denied Barcenas said he expects Garcia to bring her case to the Supreme Court.
“But while there is no TRO, she should step down. She should not wait to be bodily removed from the Capitol. She should uphold the rule of law and set a right example,” he said.
Garcia’s continued stay at the Capitol, he said, is tantamount to grave misconduct.
Meanwhile, the governor’s daughter Frasco said the OSG made vital admissions in the hearing yesterday.
“(The OSG admitted) that only a mere photocopy of the suspension order was posted in the Governor’s Office and that until now they are in possession of the original,” she said.
“Therefore Gov. Garcia has not been personally served with the original order as required by law,” she added.
Also, Frasco said the OSG admitted that the mandatory 30-day period for the president to decide the case was not followed.
“The time that the governor will lose during her suspension is a portion of her term that she will never get back again, and therefore her suspension poses a grave and irreparable injury upon her. We are hopeful of the outcome,” she said.
In an interview at the Governor’s Office, Garcia echoed hopes that the CA will grant her a TRO.
“We’re confident we’re on the right side of the law. We pray that the TRO will be granted and that everything will go back to normal,” she said.
What if no TRO is issued?
“We will continue to seek redress. We will exhaust all legal remedies available under the law,” said Frasco. /Ador Vincent Mayol and Carmel Loise Matus