Erap, Binay, JPE come to Cebu gov’s rescue
Suspended Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia has been holed up in the provincial capitol for 5 days, refusing to leave her post

UNA SUPPORT. Former President Joseph Estrada (L), Vice President Jejomar Binay (2nd R) and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile (R) face the media with suspended Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia (2nd L) at the Cebu Provincial Capitol, December 23, 2012. All are members of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA). Photo courtesy of Mike Acebedo Lopez

MANILA, Philippines – The triumvirate of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA)—Vice President Jejomar Binay, former President Joseph Estrada, and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile—arrived in Cebu on Sunday, December 23, to show their support for suspended Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, radio dzMM reported.

The report said Binay, Enrile and Estrada flew to Cebu on a chartered plane at 9 am to visit Garcia, an ally and congressional candidate of UNA who was suspended by the Palace on December 19 for grave abuse of authority.  

Their visit came days after UNA released a scathing statement, assailing Garcia’s suspension as a “power grab” and a form of “political harassment.”

Garcia was placed under suspension for 6 months.

Garcia, who talked to Binay while the latter was in India on December 19, said the vice president was alarmed that the same political tactics that were used against him by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2007 are now being employed against her.

“He is seeing the same things happening as what had happened to him,” Garcia said. “That also happened near election time and the rest of our discussion I shall keep to ourselves.”

Binay’s suspension

UNA SHOWS FORCE. Binay flew to Cebu to show support for Garcia, an ally from UNA.

Then Makati mayor, Binay was suspended by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) upon the orders of the Office of the Ombudsman on May 6, 2007—days before that year’s elections—pending investigation that he placed “ghost employees” in Makati’s payroll.

Prior to this, in 2006, he was also suspended by the DILG on the same grounds. Among those who supported him was the late former President Corazon Aquino.

Fast forward to 2012, Binay’s UNA is accusing the political party of Aquino’s son, President Benigno Aquino III, of using the same strategy to weaken UNA’s hold on Cebu, the top vote-rich province in the country. Cebu had 2.4 million voters in 2010.

UNA said DILG Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II was using his power to “dig up old complaints against local officials and use these cases to harass and intimidate.” Roxas is on leave as president of Aquino’s Liberal Party (LP).

Roxas and Binay are involved in a political tiff, as Roxas has a pending electoral case against the vice president, whom he accused of cheating in the 2010 elections. Binay won against Roxas by 730,000 votes. Roxas is widely believed to be eyeing the presidency in 2016 against Binay.

UNA will go neck and neck with LP in the 2013 mid-term polls. According to a Pulse Asia survey released on December 12, UNA could win 5 out of the 12 senatorial seats if the elections were held during the survey period of November 23 to 29.

In Cebu, meanwhile, LP is fielding a candidate who lost to Garcia in 2010. LP’s bet Hilario Davide III will face Garcia’s brother, current 3rd district congressman Pablo John, in next year’s gubernatorial race.

Garcia has sought a temporary restraining order against her suspension from the Court of Appeals.

She has been holed up in the Cebu provincial capitol for 5 days now. She refuses to leave her post even as Vice Governor Agnes Magpale was sworn in as acting governor. Magpale will run for vice governor under LP in 2013. –

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