[PHOTO -Police from Cebu City station 2 arrives at the Capitol grounds to ensure security after hearing reports that supporters of Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia will hold a rally after rumors of the governor’s suspension arose. (CDN PHOTO/ CARMEL LOISE MATUS)]

By MARS W. MOSQUEDA JR.— 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 Malacańang.

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.


Cebu governor welcomes visit of U.N.A's "3 Kings"

[PHOTO -Vice President Jejomar Binay, former President Joseph Estrada and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile went to the provincial capitol where Garcia has been staying since her suspension was served last Wednesday, to show support for the beleaguered governor.]

MANILA, Philippines - Suspended Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia welcomed yesterday a visit from the leaders of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), whom she called the “three kings.”

Garcia belongs to the UNA coalition.

“I am here to give support to the governor. She is responsible for Cebu’s progress. I hope all the Cebuanos will support her too,” Estrada said, calling the suspension order “un-Christian.”

Garcia said the moral support shown by the “three kings,” who she said are known and respected public officials, provided a boost to Cebuanos who cannot express their support for her.

“It has further strengthened my faith in Him. His ways we may not understand, but I trust in Him. In behalf of the Cebuanos, we thank you Vice President Binay, Manong Johnny and Pangulong (President) Erap for taking up the cause of the Cebuanos,” said Garcia when asked for comment on the presence of the three.

Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 The three leaders were joined by former senator Ernesto Maceda and local politicians here.

In a speech she delivered hours later, Garcia said she is the duly elected governor, and had been elected not just once but thrice, and she will not follow an illegal order.

Garcia was ordered suspended by the Office of the President for usurpation of authority, stemming from a case filed by then vice governor Gregorio Sanchez Jr.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., in a text message to The Freeman, denied going to the provincial capitol yesterday, contrary to reports.

“Manong Pabling is my friend but that is a local problem. Wouldn’t want to be involved,” said Belmonte, referring to Cebu Rep. Pablo Garcia, the father of the governor.

On the other hand, acting Gov. Agnes Magpale assured Cebuanos that despite the continuing refusal of Garcia to step down, she is not remiss in imposing the clear mandate of the law, and that is to uphold the atmosphere of civility and strict compliance with the Local Government Code and the Constitution.

When asked what she would tell the President if he will call her about the current situation at the capitol, Magpale said, “I will tell the President not to worry. I am in control of everything here.”

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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