Palace: Cebu Gov’s suspension not politically motivated

Following the accusation of Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia’s allies that her six-month suspension over grave abuse of authority is a matter of politics, a Palace official on Wednesday vehemently denied the charge. “Politics was not a factor in the cases that came up as far as the administration is concerned. May mga lumabas na reklamo [na] kailangan aksyunan. ‘Yon lang ‘yon,” Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang said in a chance interview with reporters. Garcia’s suspension order stemmed from an administrative case filed by the late former Vice Governor Gregorio Sanchez Jr., GMA Cebu's Alan Domingo said in a report on News to Go Wednesday. Garcia allegedly committed acts of usurpation, including the hiring of employees and consultants and slashing the budget of the Office of the Vice Governor, the report added. However, Garcia’s party was quick to defend her, saying the moves against the Governmor was a power grab, and a return to the previous’ administration's brand of politics. "This is without a doubt a power grab by Roxas and the LP [Liberal Party]. This is a return to the discredited practice of the Arroyo regime where the people's will is subverted and government power is used to harass and persecute political opponents," UNA Secretary General Toby Tiangco said in a statement Wednesday. "Apparently, Secretary Roxas is using the vast powers of his office to dig up old complaints against local officials and use these cases to harass and intimidate. This is not 'daang matuwid'. This is Gloria part 2," he added. Tiangco also noted that both Cebu and Pangasinan are vote-rich provinces whose governors are not considered political allies by Roxas and LP During her term, Arroyo was repeatedly accused of political patronage. Tiangco added that Department of Interior and Local Government Mar Roxas is now doing the same thing, to allow Vice Governor Agnes Magpale to take effective control of the province. Magpale was sworn in as officer-in-charge immediately after the suspension order was served to Garcia’s office. For his part Carandang dismissed the accusations, saying that the administration was merely acting on complaints filed. “Well, I can assure you [that] politics has nothing to do with it as far as we are concerned. May mga prosesong sinunod ‘yung mga kaso na ‘yon,” he said. Carandang also pointed to the nearing election season as a wellspring of possible criticisms of the administration. “If you look at it one way sasabihin kapag kumilos, sasabihin politically motivated. Pero kung hindi rin kumilos may magsasabi rin na politically motivated. So we’re entering the season where pretty much you’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don‘t. So para sa amin we just let the processes take [their] course,” Carandang said. Carandang added that the President did not take special interest in the case, saying the Chief Executive’s approval of the suspension was merely part of his duties. “It’s just the regular process. It wasn’t viewed in a political manner,” Carandang said. — BM, GMA News