Cebu Tension Escalates As Police Shut Down Two Media Outlets

MANILA, Philippines --- CEBU CITY - Tension at the Cebu Provincial Capitol brewed again Friday night when policemen shut down the office of Sugbo TV, a cable station of the Province of Cebu, and the Capitol's official newspaper, Sugbo News.

The shutting down of the cable station and publication was in line with the six-month suspension of Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, who was found guilty of abuse of power. Garcia remains inside her office as she continues to question the legality of the order issued by Malacañang.

A staff of Sugbo TV, an award-winning TV channel that was a recipient of the Cebu Mass Media Awards for one of its programs, said the police arrived at the TV station's doorstep past 7 p.m. on Friday, ordering all employees to vacate the building, which is shared by Sugbo TV and Sugbo News.

Some employees tried to resist the police order, which caused the tension, a source said. All the employees eventually decided to leave the building, which is not closely guarded by policemen.

"Award-winning Sugbu TV has just been shut down and gone off the air, so sad for a pioneering Provincial TV station," said Garcia's chief of staff Elizabeth Francia on her Facebook post.

Sources said Acting Governor Agnes Magpale was the one who ordered the shutting down of the two media outlets on grounds that these were being used a propaganda outlet of the One Cebu Party, which is headed by Garcia.

Garcia remained holed up in her office for a fourth day, still insisting that she will not step down and give up her position, and continuing to hope for the release of the temporary restraining order that her legal team filed with the Court of Appeals (CA) last Friday.

Sources, however, said the court may not be able to act quickly on Garcia's motion because of the coming holidays.

Based on the decision taken by the Office of the President, Garcia was found guilty of grave abuse of authority, particularly usurpation of the appointing power of the Office of the Vice Governor; decreasing the budget of the Office of the Vice Governor by 61 percent; and the hiring of consultants without prior authority from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

Meanwhile, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma went to the office of Garcia Friday night but refused to tell the media details of their conversation. Palma earlier commented that the suspension order was ill-timed.

The holidays are "not the best time to give the suspension order. This certainly brings so much sadness," Palma, who also heads Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), told reporters.

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