Garcia suspension a power grab, says UNA

Posted at 12/19/2012 1:39 PM | Updated as of 12/20/2012 10:14 AM

MANILA, Philippines – The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) believes the government has a hidden agenda in suspending Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia.

The Office of the President issued an order to suspend Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia for six months for grave abuse of authority.

The suspension order was served Wednesday morning. Incumbent Cebu Vice Governor Agnes Magpale is expected to take over Garcia's seat.

The suspension stemmed from the complaint filed by the late Vice Governor Gregorio Sanchez Jr. charging Garcia of withholding the budget for his office. Garcia also allegedly did not act on a petition for the contract renewal of 57 employees in the vice-governor's office.

President Aquino ordered then Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo to conduct an investigation but the results of the probe were forwarded to Malacañang only this year.

UNA Secretary General Toby Tiangco said the suspension is the handiwork of the ruling Liberal Party and its stalwart, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas.

"This is without a doubt a power grab by Roxas and the LP. 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," Tiangco said.

"It is becoming apparent that the noble goal of moral governance is being hijacked by the selfish political agenda of the administration party and Secretary Roxas," he added.

Tiangco said Roxas and his party-mates are already persecuting their opponents in the 2013 elections.

He cited the case of Pangasinan Governor and Nationalist People's Coalition candidate Amado Espina Jr., who was recently slapped with a plunder case for allegedly protecting and operating jueteng in his province.

He believes that Roxas, a potential presidential candidate in the 2016 elections, targeted Cebu and Pangasinan for being vote-rich provinces.

"Mr. Secretary, we do not question the President's reform agenda. We embrace the campaign to reform government, and to make government officials more accountable to the people. However, accountability should be applied to all government officials regardless of political connections or affiliations. That, for us, is the essence of walking the righteous path," Tiangco told Roxas. – with Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News; and dzMM