On one hand, I’d say the clock is ticking for MalacaÃ±ang. Presumably with every hour — and day — it dithers in its decision on what to do about rogue Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia who remains ‘holed up for a cause’ at the Cebu Capitol after being slapped with a suspension order on the 19th December by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the government of President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino loses valuable political capital. This is under the assumption that Garcia’s ironic call for “people power” remains the potent acid that eats into a perceived dictator’s moral ascendancy.
It seems, however, that in this instance, MalacaÃ±ang holds all the aces.
By all accounts, “people power” — that once famous Pinoy “invention” — has become a less sour acid with overuse. Whether it be to lynch “dictators” or defend self-proclaimed “heroes”, the use of street parliamentarianism in Philippine politics has gone flaccid. As far back as 2005 in the aftermath of a failed bid to impeach former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and an even more epic fail to organise “people power” protests to carry on the effort to oust her outside of institutionalised procedure, columnist Amando Doronila had already written an obituary to this tired relic of Yellowist mentality:
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[…] people power has been drained of its mystique as a magic formula to oust much-demonized leaders. The indiscriminate use of people power to overthrow unwanted leaders has drained its potency as a weapon for effecting political change. Its potency has been depleted by frequent use. The sputtering of protests after the House vote should be a rude reality check to Cory Aquino. She has been deserted by people power. And nothing could be more pathetic.
What Garcia should be doing as an officer of the State is serve as a model to her constituents in embodying a deep respect for all that “hard-won” democracy everybody keeps waxing poetic about. Instead she is roping the larger society of Cebu into the small petty world of her own personal problems. For true leaders it should be the other way around — true leaders recognise that it is all about stuff that is bigger; bigger than themselves specifically.
Garcia’s foremost job as governor is to serve as one of the means by which the people of Cebu could build productive, meaningful, and fulfilling lives. Note the emphasis on the word one. Garcia is not the single biggest feature in the lives of Cebu folk. She is but a small cog. Governors — and even Presidents — come and go. But life for the ordinary schmoe remains the same and Philippine history has long proven that there is very little (if any) strong causal relationship that exists between the identity and/or quality of Philippine governors and presidents and the trajectory of ordinary Filipino lives.
Garcia should be sparing the people of Cebu any disruption from their everyday business of working towards those goals. Being governor of Cebu is not all about you, Governor Garcia. The way you are dealing with your personal issues with your overlords in the Philippine capital city is hindering rather than promoting the bigger society that you swore to serve.
As to the measures in place to execute the suspension order, President BS Aquino of all people should know what the obvious next steps are. Any firearms enthusiast knows that you don’t point a gun at another human being unless you plan to shoot her. And you don’t shoot unless your aim is to kill.
What’s the point then in deploying an armed force around a target if there is no will to use it against said target?
â€œTo my knowledge, there has been no plan â€¦ to bodily carry her out. As we have repeatedly stated, we encourage Gov. Gwen Garcia to observe the rule of law,â€ presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a text message.
â€œTo my knowledge, we continue to exercise Jobâ€™s virtue,â€ Lacierda said, referring to the biblical character Job known for patience.
Spoken like a true pussy.
From the sporadic reports coming in from the streets of Cebu, it is quite evident that no ocho-ocho street revolution is materialising there. Noynoy has a clean shot and he should take it, specially considering that Garcia’s countersuit versus MalacaÃ±ang’s suspension order apparently does not hold water. As Inquirer.net columnist Neal Cruz observes…
Garcia defied the order, barricading herself in the Cebu capitol, and filed her petition in the Court of Appeals.
The solicitor general filed its opposition, pointing out that the petition failed to demonstrate that there was any â€œflagrantâ€ abuse by the Office of the President in its exercise of the power of suspension over erring provincial officials.
The key phrase is: â€œFlagrant abuse of the power of suspension.â€ Failing to prove such abuse, said the Office of the Solicitor General, it is next to impossible to undo an administrative sanction which is the prerogative of any president.
And Garciaâ€™s petition for a TRO never addressed the issue. It dwelled instead on the worn arguments she raised when she was still opposing the administrative case filed by Sanchez in 2010. These were the same arguments that Robredo found insufficient to shield Garcia from suspension.
The findings of flagrant abuse of authority are what Garcia is trying to overturn, but she brought no fresh arguments to the Court of Appeals to prove that MalacaÃ±ang abused its power.
Courage in this instance does not lie in holing one’s self up in a public building. It lies in (1) putting faith in a system, flawed as it may be, that one’s constituents supposedly “fought” to build and uphold, and (2) facing your “oppressor” within the framework of said system one had sworn to uphold and defend even at the risk of becoming a “victim” of its flaws. It also means a will to use state force when necessary to end any further disruption to ordinary Filipino lives.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.