Monday, January 21, 2013
CEBU CITY — Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia stepped out of her Capitol office for the longest time in a month in order to offer a dance to the Señor Sto. Nino Sunday afternoon.
Her political allies from the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), headed by Vice President Jejomar Binay, visited her at the Capitol then applauded from the grandstand when she performed past 7 p.m.
“I am here because my devotion supersedes everything else,” Garcia said.
Not long after the standing ovation that capped her performance, the governor was driven back to the Capitol, where her parents and other supporters waited.
She was emotional when she embraced her mother, retired judge Esperanza Fiel-Garcia.
Four policemen, however, were summoned Sunday by Police Regional Office (PRO)-Central Visayas Director Marcelo Garbo Jr., who asked why they escorted the governor to the sports center.
Since the election period started last Sunday, all security personnel detailed to incumbent elective officials were recalled. The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will allow governors and members of Congress to keep two of their security personnel, provided they get the Comelec’s permission.
The two Special Weapons and Tactics (Swat) operatives and two police trainees from Negros Oriental were summoned past 5 p.m. to Camp Sergio Osmeña Sr. just across the road from the sports center.
Their names were withheld.
Within two hours after the Sinulog parade and the performances on the grand stage started, word of the Vice President’s arrival spread.
By that time, Acting Governor Agnes Magpale had already left the VIP section of the grandstand. She attended the mass that came before the parade.
Magpale said she hopes that Cebuanos will continue their devotion to the Child Jesus, for Cebu to be protected from calamities.
She said she also prayed for a peaceful election this May and for good health for her family and all Cebuanos.
When asked in a separate interview if they would lock the governor’s office after Garcia went out Sunday, Director Garbo reiterated that would be for Acting Governor Magpale to decide.
Director Garbo, during a press briefing, said the policemen who escorted the governor were fielded after Cebu City Police Office Director Mariano Natuel Jr. received a request from the staff of Mayor Michael Rama.
“It was his (Natuel’s) judgment call. I believed it was a valid request, since the suspended governor wanted to dance and participate in the Sinulog,” Garbo said.
The police escorts were pulled out after Garcia’s vehicle reached the sports center.
With Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile, former senators Ernesto Maceda and Dick Gordon, and Senate candidate Representative Mitos Magsaysay, the vice president paid a visit to the suspended governor Sunday morning. (The UNA leaders also visited the governor shortly before Christmas last year.)
“We were invited by a friend to come here. And since we are already here, we have to visit a friend. It’s our duty as a friend to see her, not necessarily to deal with her case but to tell her, ‘How are you? How have you been?’” Enrile said.
Garcia said she was grateful for the continued show of support from the UNA leaders. Until September last year, Garcia was supposed to be on the Senate ticket of the opposition party.
The party’s leaders have accused Malacañang of using the governor’s six-month suspension to give the Liberal Party’s local allies an advantage in this election season.
Since a copy of the suspension order from Malacañang reached her office last December 19, the governor has spent her days and nights in her office. She stepped out briefly twice, in order to address her supporters’ rallies outside the Capitol.
By the time she went out from the Capitol on Sunday, the governor said, she felt sad, tense and happy, all at once.
Her vehicle arrived at the Cebu City Sports Center around 4:30 p.m. and entered through the gate near P. del Rosario St. and N. Bacalso Ave.
Garcia, accompanied by some members of her family and escorted by the New Guardians, directly went inside a tent at the back of the stage, where she changed into her costume.
She wore a long, beaded white gown designed by Cary Santiago, and danced to “Mabuhi ka Sugbuanon,” her signature song at Capitol events.
The Rosquillos Festival of Liloan, grand champion of the Pasigarbo sa Sugbo Festival of Festivals, reportedly never got the chance to rehearse with the governor.
After her performance, the governor said she was moved by the crowd’s welcome.
“Nadungog nako ang hugyaw sa mga Sugbuanon ug nakaingon ko nga angay ra gyud diay nga akong gihalad ang tanan nga milabay nga siyam katuig alang kanila (I heard the cheering of the Cebuanos and I told myself that the nine years I offered in their service were all worth it),” said Garcia.
At the Capitol, the governor’s parents, Deputy Speaker Pablo Garcia and Judge Garcia, watched the live telecast of the governor’s performance. When Garcia returned to the Capitol, she hugged her mother.
“Cebu will go back to what it was,” she said at one point. “These are not normal times. I pray that justice and truth will prevail. Let us all offer our praise, thanks and prayer to the Señor Santo Nino.” (Davinci S. Maru/Sun.Star Cebu)