Philippine economy

Palace to Binay: Don’t push Garcia to defy law

The Palace says Vice President Jejomar Binay, who has shown support for suspended Cebu Gov Gwen Garcia, should do his job: tell her to follow the law

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. All are members of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA). Photo courtesy of Mike Acebedo Lopez

MANILA, Philippines – How does the Palace feel that the country’s second highest executive, Vice President Jejomar Binay, seems to encourage Cebu Gov Gwen Garcia to defy its orders?

The Palace on Monday, December 24, refused to comment on reports that Binay himself advised Garcia to stay put in the Cebu capitol. Garcia could spend Christmas Eve there, refusing to step down despite a 6-month suspension order issued by the Office of the President.

The most that the Palace could say, according to Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang, is that government officials like Binay should follow the law. “You cannot choose which law you will follow, and which you will not, so let’s all follow the law. And let’s not create a situation where people are encouraged to violate the law,” Carandang said in a press briefing.

Carandang went a step further, and appealed to Binay and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who, along with former President Joseph Estrada, visited and showed support for Garcia over the weekend.

“We’re hoping that as active members of the government, Senate President Enrile and Vice President Binay can reason with Governor Garcia and ask her, again, what we have been saying all along: To follow the rule of law,” Carandang said.

He noted that the suspension, which the Palace issued last December 19, is a valid order, “at least until it’s overturned by the courts.” Without a court-issued temporary restraining order (TRO) on the suspension, Carandang said “she should comply with the valid order.”

Political, too

But the issue is not as simple as a top executive, like Binay, urging his subordinate to follow the law. Binay, after all, heads the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) that rivals President Benigno Aquino III’s Liberal Party (LP) in the 2013 elections.

Binay, Estrada, and Enrile, who showed support for the defiant Garcia, form the top brass of UNA. (Read: Meet Cebu’s defiant governor.)

Calling Binay a “man of destiny,” Garcia was supposed to run for senator under UNA’s slate in a bid to boost Binay’s machinery for 2016. She withdrew her bid supposedly due to family-related reasons.

'3 KINGS.' UNA's leaders have always shown support for Cebu Gov Gwen Garcia, who was supposed to run for senator under UNA. File photo by PRIB/Albert Calvelo

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), which implemented Garcia’s suspension, is meanwhile headed by Secretary Mar Roxas who, like Binay, is eyeing a presidential run in 2016.

The way Garcia sees it, her suspension was a “power grab.” “We have a coming election. This is Cebu. This is vote-rich Cebu!” she said in an interview with reporters. (Watch more in the video below.)

The LP, on the other hand, said Garcia’s defiance is a move to garner sympathy votes.

The standoff in Cebu has now become a heated national issue, involving an interplay of legal-political and national-local dynamics. –