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MANILA, Philippines – A day after her suspension, Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia refuses to step down, saying only force — and not her political rival — can unseat her.
Ayee Macaraig reports.
It looks like a regular governors’ day.
A meeting with department heads at the province’s seat of power.
But the day is far from normal for suspended Cebu Governor Gwendolyn “Gwen” Garcia.
Garcia insists on running Cebu’s capitol a day after her suspension order is released.
President Aquino finds her guilty of abusing authority by bypassing her late Vice Governor Gregorio Sanchez Jr and the provincial council in hiring contractual employees.
Vice Governor Agnes Magpale assumes office as acting governor.
Unfazed, Garcia says force – not her political rival – can unseat her.
She calls her suspension illegal and the charges flimsy.
GWENDOLYN GARCIA, SUSPENDED CEBU GOVERNOR: Over my dead body akong aalis dito. JC Look at all the police. The capitol is under siege. This is vote-rich Cebu!
Garcia and her brother, Cebu Representative Pablo John Garcia, cry political harassment.
Once allies of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the Garcias are now linked with the opposition United Nationalist Alliance of Vice President Jejomar Binay, the bitter rival of Interior Secretary Mar Roxas of the Liberal Party.
Roxas says he only enforces the order based on recommendations of his late predecessor Jesse Robredo.
The Garcias don’t buy it.
They plan to ask the courts to stop the suspension.
PABLO JOHN GARCIA, CEBU REP, 3RD DISTRICT: LP is showing brute force. This is martial law, emphasis on Mar. JC Gov Magpale is not just acting governor. She is overacting governor.
Rallying her own supporters, Magpale says Garcia should follow an order that is final and executory.
With Palace and police backing, Magpale also takes control.
For her, being Roxas’ partymate and the sister of Aquino classmate Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras are not the issue.
AGNES MAGPALE, ACTING CEBU GOVERNOR: I’ve been in politics for 20 years. My brother is 18 years my junior. To drag his name is unfair. This decision is long overdue.
Magpale is leaving it up to the police to deal with Garcia.
The police say if the suspended governor continues her defiance, she may just force them to literally remove her from office.
AYEE MACARAIG, REPORTING: Who is in charge and how long will the situation last? The police and the two camps will have to confront these questions in the coming days. For now, Cebuanos will have to contend with two female governors as the provincial and national political drama drags on.
Ayee Macaraig, Rappler, Cebu.