Let Garcia be

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

WE'VE rung out the old year but the impasse continues at the Capitol where Gov. Gwen Garcia remains holed up in defiance of a suspension order issued by the President of the Philippines. It’s a situation you would not wish on anyone, spending the New Year (and Christmas) in a confining environment such as the workplace, but Garcia says it is a burden that she had to bear in order to protect the overwhelming mandate that the Cebuanos gave her in the 2010 elections.

How long must it last?

We’re looking at the Court of Appeals to resolve the suspended governor’s prayer for a temporary restraining order with dispatch. Our own experience tells us, however, that the expectation (of a quick resolution) may be unrealistic. The holidays have already occasioned a delay of at least a couple of weeks; the requirements of due process could cost the case another week more, with luck on our side.


Malacañang has denied that there is a plan to physically drag Garcia out of the Capitol as suggested by Liberal Party hotheads like Cordova Mayor Adelino Sitoy.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said that they continue to encourage Garcia to follow the rule of law.

But how do you define the rule of law? Or to put it bluntly, whose idea of the rule of law? The suspended governor’s camp says that that is precisely what she is doing in choosing to stay put-–upholding the rule of law. They’re not alone on this. Read the editorials and opinion columns condemning the suspension as a “power grab” and you get the sense that to accept the President’s order is to bow down to tyranny which, as everybody now knows or pretends to know, is inconsistent with the democratic idea of a rule of law.

That is the same point that the “three kings”-–deposed president Erap Estrada, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Vice President Jojo Binay-–also, and not surprisingly, made when they flew down to Cebu on the first week of the stalemate: resist oppression and stay in office. Archbishop Jose Palma also came a-visiting and gave similar advice, according to Garcia. Don’t surrender. I’ll pray that the Lord be with you and give you strength.

Palma has since paid her another visit yet on New Year’s Eve and we can only surmise how much his unsolicited and unqualified support has strengthened her resolve. With the weight of such powerful and learned men behind her, how could she fail? Or should the question be, how could she be wrong?

And because the President is not expected to suffer sudden conversion (the bishops have apparently given up on him and are not counting on him going through the Saul of Tarsus experience on the road to Damascus) and recall Garcia’s suspension order, the impasse at the Capitol continues.

So I dare suggest to let Garcia be. Let her stay in her office at the Capitol until the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court tells her to go or until she decides to leave on her own accord, whichever comes first. Minus her unwanted (to her critics) stay in her office, everything in the Capitol is otherwise normal with acting Gov. Agnes Magpale discharging the functions of the office of governor freely and unhindered.

Despite what the three kings and an archbishop advised her to do, I believe that sooner than later Garcia will step down to bring her case directly to the people. Why?

The answer is emblazoned on the front wall of the Capitol building. Vox populi, vox dei, it says. The voice of the people is the voice of God. No Court can speak louder than the people, no judgment higher than their voice in an election.

May 13, here they come.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 03, 2013.


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