Govt to suffer 'irreparable injury' if Garcia's TRO granted - CA Justice

During Thursday's Court of Appeals oral arguments on Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia's petition for a Temporary Restraining Order against her suspension, CA Justice Vicente Veloso said the government would suffer greater "irreparable injury" if Garcia's petition was granted. Veloso - who heads the CA Sixth Division to which the case was raffled off to – said,

"Fixed ang penalty of six months. So starting Dec 17, on actual knowledge of the suspension, it would expire June 17. So if we issue a 60-day TRO, suspension of six months will be cut to three months [given that Garcia has already served one month]." Veloso added that if Garcia eventually wins the case, she could still claim her back wages. However, Garcia's legal counsel,Tranquil Salvador III, said his client was not concerned with her wages given that the suspension order had "besmirched" her reputation. The Office of the President had earlier suspended Garcia for usurpation of authority based in an administrative case lodged against her by the late Vice Governor Gregorio Sanchez Jr. Meanwhile, the oral arguments at the CA were concluded, but no restraining order was issued. Instead, the CA Sixth Division submitted the case for resolution. Salvador said that he was not worried about Veloso's perceived inclination not to issue a TRO. "[The justices normally] try to ask questions from both parties. Minsan, may makikita kayong tanong nila na ay parang pabor sa kabila.,But that does not in any way say they will decide in one's favor. Remember they are a collegial body," Salvador said. Furthermore, Garcia's counsel said he was confident their camp was able to drive home their point that Garcia would suffer "grave and irreparable injury" if the suspension order against her is not stopped. Salvador also recounted how Garcia insisted she would not leave the provincial capitol, where she has been holed up since the suspension order was served last December 17, until the CA resolves their petition. Garcia's daughter Christina Garcia-Frasco, who also is one of the governor's legal counsels, said, "We are very happy that we were finally able to ventilate the merits as well as the urgency of the need for the issuance of the TRO." "We will exhaust all our legal remedies in case the TRO is not issued. The road does not end here. But we are confident we will be able to secure a TRO," she said after the oral arguments. Meanwhile, Sanchez's daughter, Gigi Sanchez-Caballero, who also observed the CA proceedings, said she felt relieved "because to me I felt the rule of law is what the CA was trying to observe." She also insisted the suspension order against Garcia - a known ally of President Benigno Aquino III's predecessor Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo - was not politically motivated. "I would like to reiterate that our camp is not saying na wala siyang [Garcia] nagawa sa Cebu. Marami siyang nagawa just like my dad but there was just this abuse of authority," Sanchez-Caballero said. 'Extra-super-maximum tolerance' Malacañang had earlier appealed to Garcia to accept her suspension and let the wheels of justice turn after she defied the order and instead issued an order to all provincial hall employees not to recognize directives from acting governor Vice Governor Agnes Magpale. Garcia, in an interview earlier aired on GMA News TV's "Balita Pilipinas," said she would continue to hold office at the provincial capitol "and they can only stop me if they will physically drag me out of this office.” “And if they want to stop me, then they’ll have to do that over my dead body,” she added. The Cebu police said they would not physically remove Garcia from her office unless ordered to do so. Garcia said she believes her suspension was politically motivated — a claim denied by the government. She also said the suspension order was defective since she did not receive it personally and that complainant Sanchez has already passed away. "The death of vice governor Sanchez at the time is no longer material because he was reduced to a mere witness," said Magpale's lawyer Magnificos Cañete. Interior Secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas II had earlier said the order is still considered served as there are two ways of doing it that are equally recognized by law—either serving it personally or serving it in the place or office where the subject is most commonly found. Asked about Garcia's continued stay inside the capitol building, Cañete said the local government has decided to exercise "extra-super-maximum tolerance." "Mam Agnes tells everyone she [Garcia] can stay there all she wants for as long as she doesn't make a move that would distract the functions of the office of the governor," he said. The lawyer appealed to Garcia to honor the suspension order, even as he vowed that in case the CA issues a TRO in favor of Garcia "We have an agreement that Magpale will not stay as acting governor a minute longer. Even a faxed copy of the TRO sent to us would do." — DVM, GMA News