Gwen Garcia's office padlocked

Posted at 01/30/13 3:25 PM

MANILA, Philippines (1st UPDATE) -- The office of suspended Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia was padlocked Wednesday.

Acting Cebu Governor Agnes Magpale ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to padlock Garcia's office at the capitol at around 2 p.m. while the suspended governor was away.

Garcia left the provincial capitol Tuesday night and reportedly spent the night in her house.

She then attended an inauguration of a training center in Oslob town, which is about 100 kilometers away from Cebu City.

Garcia is still at Oslob town as of posting.

The suspended governor also left the capitol last January 20 to dance at the Grand Sinulog Festival. She was allowed to go back to her office after the dance.

Garcia had been holed up in her office since the Palace ordered her suspension December last year.

The suspension order stemmed from charges that Garcia deliberately withheld funds for the office of then Cebu vice governor.

'Padlocking Garcia's office illegal' 

Meanwhile, Garcia's daughter and lawyer Christina Frasco insisted padlocking the office of the suspended governor is illegal.

"The act of padlocking the governor's office is illegal. First, because as we have maintained from the very beginning, the suspension is illegal. Second, because we filed a petition before the Court of Appeals which is now still under adjudication," Frasco told ANC.

She said Garcia just left the capitol to continue performing her duties as the governor of Cebu.

She insisted Garcia is still the incumbent governor of the province and Magpale has no right to issue such an order to padlock Garcia's office.

"Governor Gwen Garcia is the incumbent governor of Cebu. A public official that is merely in an acting capacity is not an incumbent. The person originally elected to that position is the incumbent," she said.

Frasco again insisted that the suspension of Garcia was illegal, saying that the only way for her to be validly removed from office is through a court order.

"Therefore, she has the right to return to her office...precisely because she has not been removed but has been merely illegally suspended," she said.

She claimed this is clearly a case of "political harassment and a continued abuse of government resources."

"Our only disadvantage is that we are not members of the ruling party," she added. -- With a report from June Perez, dzMM; With ANC