MANILA, Philippines – She never imagined she would celebrate her birthday this way – with “sadness” after her mother, the most powerful woman in Cebu, holed up in the capitol to defy a 6-month suspension.
In an e-mail to Rappler on Tuesday, December 25, Christina Garcia Codilla-Frasco, daughter of suspended Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia, said she initially thought people will forget her birthday “because of the circumstances.” Her birthday falls on Christmas, said Frasco, who is also her mother’s lawyer.
Frasco’s family, as well as the media, however, surprised her with a birthday cake at midnight.
“While I feel a tinge of sadness about my birthday and our family’s unusual Christmas this year, the overwhelming feeling is one of gratitude – knowing that we are here for a great cause and that so many stand with us,” Frasco said.
“I look at my Mom, think of how much of her life she has given to Cebu, and the sacrifices that she has gone through to fight for the mandate the Cebuanos have given her, and I am reminded that (amid) this difficult trial, the true spirit of Christmas – that of giving and self-sacrifice – shines through. They may take us away from our homes this Christmas, but they can’t take Christmas away from us,” she said.
Her family broke tradition this year, she added, having spent Christmas at the Cebu governor’s office. The Garcias usually celebrated Christmas Eve at the house of their grandparents, Deputy Speaker Pablo Garcia and Judge Esperanza Garcia.
Frasco said this time, aside from the traditional Christmas dinner, the Garcias shared food with the media and policemen manning the capitol gates and barricades.
On Christmas Day, which is usually a family day, a “steady stream of supporters” also took time to visit the suspended governor, according to her daughter.
In a tweet before midnight on Tuesday, Garcia called this year’s Christmas the “most unique” in her life.
Spending Christmas at the Capitol with family, friends and the media. The most unique Christmas celebration in my entire life.— Gwen Garcia(@gwengarcia1ph) December 24, 2012
Garcia has refused to step down even after an acting governor, Liberal Party member and Cebu Vice Governor Agnes Mapale, was sworn in. The Office of the President has suspended Garcia for 6 months for grave abuse of authority. (Watch more in the video below)
The standoff in Cebu has now become a heated national issue, involving an interplay of legal-political and national-local dynamics.
Vice President Jejomar Binay himself has stepped in, along with the two other leaders of his United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), to support his embattled party member. The Palace, however, has said government officials like Binay should “not create a situation where people are encouraged to violate the law.”
President Benigno Aquino III’s LP is the closest rival of Binay’s UNA in the 2013 elections. Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, who is on leave as LP’s president, is eyeing a presidential run against Binay in 2016. – Rappler.com