Cebu and the Gwen Garcia notebooks
MANILA, Philippines - Cebu students may soon receive notebooks with someone familiar on the cover—their suspended governor, Gwen Garcia.
Despite a circular banning names, images or pictures of government officials in billboards and signages of government programs, projects and properties, acting Gov Agnes Magpale has asked Interior Secretary Mar Roxas to relax the prohibition and allow the release of 339,455 notebooks with Garcia's photo and name.
Magpale said the local government neither has the money nor the resources to reformat these notebooks in time for the school opening next week.
According to Cebu Daily News, revising the covers of the notebooks would cost the Cebu provincial government an added expense of about P4 million.
Magpale said the money could instead be used to build classrooms in the province.
There were also initial plans to cover Garcia's face with Manila paper, but this too entailed additional expense. Magpale is awaiting Roxas' response before distributing the notebooks.
"As soon as I get the response of DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government), we will distribute the notebooks as is. Hopefully, this week because I’m expecting a reply anytime today or tomorrow," she was quoted as saying.
The supplies, worth about P18.9M, have remained in the stockroom of the provincial capitol after the Commission on Audit (COA) in March said their purchase violated the procurement process because they bore the name of a government official.
Magpale refused to distribute the school kits before the 2013 midterm elections, but said she hopes to give them to school children in June in time for the new school year.
In an article by Sun Star, Garcia, who was elected representative of Cebu's 3rd district last May 13, defended the value of the notebooks bearing her name and photo, saying this informed students about their local government officials.
She however complained she was being singled out, noting that other Capitol officials' faces can also be seen in the notebooks.
Some notebooks purchased in 2011 and 2012 also have a photo of Garcia with the late vice governor Greg Sanchez, as well as pictures of the 15 Provincial Board Members -- including Magpale. When Sanchez died in 2011, Magpale took his place as vice governor.
Garcia also argued that Republic Act 9184, which modernized the procurement activities of the government, does not prohibit the use of public officials' names and images in government supplies.
President Benigno Aquino III suspended Garcia for 6 months on Dec 19, 2012 for grave abuse of authority. Magpale, a member of the Liberal Party, was sworn into office as acting governor, a move decried by Garcia as a form of political harassment. Garcia belongs to the opposition United Nationalist Alliance - Rappler.com