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MANILA, Philippines - Martial Law.
This is the cry of suspended Cebu Gov Gwendolyn "Gwen" Garcia, after the Office of the Governor, where she has been holed up since her suspension, was padlocked.
Garcia's camp is considering filing a complaint against acting Gov Agnes Magpale who ordered provincial administrator Eduardo Habin to lock the office.
Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, an ally of Garcia, was also quoted as saying the Cebu City government may file charges against members of the Central Visayas Police, including Chief Superintendent Marcelo Garbo Jr who heads the department.
In a press conference, Garcia said she would sue Magpale if any of her personal belongings were to be damaged or stolen.
"As duly elected governor, I am entitled to an office. And that office is the Office of the Governor. I see no reason why they (Magpale) need to padlock it. They locked it, they have the keys… that’s a new case of robbery," she said.
Garcia added she will not force her way back to the office but vowed to go around Cebu to tell the people about the injustice she has experienced.
"I will go to the people and tell them what is being done to me. One of things that I will tell them is my office was closed down. The Office of the Governor should have been the refuge of the people," she said.
Garcia was issued a 6-month suspension last December, for grave abuse of authority in bypassing the Office of the Vice Governor and the provincial council in hiring contractual employees.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government ordered Magpale to take over. Magpale has been taking office in another building at the capitol.
On Wednesday, January 30, Garcia left her office to visit Oslob, giving Magpale the opportunity to lock her out.
The suspended governor said she has not conceded, otherwise she would have withdrawn her petition for a temporary restraining order. Garcia is currently awaiting the decision of the Court of Appeals 12th division, where she filed a petition asking them to overturn her suspension.
On Twitter, Garcia's daughter Christina Garcia-Frasco called the padlocking of the office "unconstitutional."
"Padlocking of Governor's Office was done EVEN BEFORE written order from Magpale arrived. No notice. No due process. Unconstitutional. MARtial Law," she posted.
Frasco has deliberately capitalized "Mar" in Martial in her previous posts, suggesting it is Interior Secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas behind the "abuse."
Frasco also lashed out at Magpale, saying "one does not become governor by padlocking an office."
Magpale however, said she is done tolerating Garcia's stay in the Capitol.
“We have tolerated the presence of the suspended governor. And as suspended governor, she’s not entitled to an office anymore,” Magpale said.
On Thursday, January 31, Malacañang said the locking out of Garcia settles the issue, and paves the way for legal scrutiny.
"This is now a legal case. From the very start, we hold that the suspension has validity and it will stand legal scrutiny," said presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda.
He said Magpale deemed the locking of the office necessary after Garcia left the office "stealthily or surreptitiously."
Garcia is running for Congress in May 2013, to replace her brother in Cebu's 2nd district. Her brother is running for governor of Cebu. - Rappler.com