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Garcia defies Dec. 31 ultimatum to step down as Cebu gov

Suspended Cebu governor Gwendolyn Garcia greeted the new year holed up in the provincial capitol, defying the ultimatum given by the police for her to step down. The Dec. 31, 2012, ultimatum was issued by Chief Superintendent Marcelo Garbo, head of the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7, according to a report by Ana Desamparado on GMA News TV’s “Balita Pilipinas.” However, acting governor Agnes Magpale said they let Garcia defy the ultimatum “in the spirit of the season.” “In the spirit of the season, we continue to exercise maximum tolerance and pray for their enlightenment," Magpale said in a statement, referring to Garcia and her supporters, which include members of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA). The six-month suspension order against Garcia, issued last Dec. 19, stemmed from an administrative case filed against her regarding her alleged abuse of authority. Garcia and her allies in UNA, however, see politics behind the suspension, accusing the Liberal Party — the group of President Benigno Aquino III, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Magpale — of trying to seize control of the vote-rich province in time for the 2013 elections. They also accused the LP of enforcing “martial law” in the province. Magpale, in her statement, said she was “saddened” that Garcia’s issue was being used for political means. “We are saddened that groups with political interests are using this as a means to further their interests in continued defiance of a lawful order from a duly constituted authority,” she said. She, however, noted that “Garcia's attempt to create trouble had largely been ignored by the politically mature citizens of one of the country's most progressive provinces.” “Cebuanos, regardless of their political leanings, prefer a legal and peaceful solution to the problems created by Garcia and her UNA allies,” Magpale said. — Gian Geronimo/KBK, GMA News