Gwen Garcia replaced as House Deputy Speaker
Cebu’s Third District Rep. Gwendolyn “Gwen” Garcia was replaced as deputy speaker for the Visayas of the House of Representatives on Wednesday, August 15.
Another Visayan legislator, Bohol Rep. Arthur Yap, took on the post in a revamp in the House leadership yesterday.
However, Garcia has taken on a key position in House as the new chairperson of the Committee on Economic Affairs, with Majority Floorleader Rolando Andaya Jr., the representative of Camarines Sur, moving for her to take on the new post.
Garcia, who was the former governor of Cebu, welcomed the new committee chairmanship in the House.
“It is a new challenge and I thank Speaker GMA (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) for entrusting me with this chairmanship,” she told Cebu Daily News in a text message on Wednesday.
Apart from Garcia, Marikina Rep. Miro Quimbo was also replaced by Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay as the new deputy speaker for Mindanao.
When asked if the replacement has something to do with Garcia’s move to adjourn the session last July 23, which was construed as her siding with then House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez before the Davao del Norte representative was ousted by pro-Arroyo lawmakers, Garcia brushed off the question as speculative.
“You have my statement, based on facts. I do not respond to speculative questions,” Garcia said.
Alvarez was replaced by former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as Speaker of the House of Representatives in a dramatic move that overshadowed and delayed the State of the Nation Address (Sona) that President Rodrigo Duterte was to deliver before the joint Congressional session on July 23.
Meanwhile, Cebu Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale said the removal of Garcia as deputy speaker may have some effects on her bid to run for Cebu governor in next year’s election.
“If you ask me, yes maybe it will,” Magpale told reporters.
Magpale also noted that the choice of deputy speakers was usually the call of the House Speaker.
“It is always the priority of the new speaker, let’s give it to Speaker GMA. That is her prerogative,” she added.
Garcia described as a “non sequitur” the observation that her departure as deputy speaker will have negative effect on her gubernatorial bid in 2019.
Magpale, a known ally of incumbent Gov. Hilario Davide III, on the other hand, “wished” that the Office of Ombudsman would enforce the order to dismiss Garcia from public office.
“For those in search of fairness and justice, mo wish ta nga ma-implement,” she said.
The Ombudsman has ordered Garcia dismissed from public service over the unauthorized P24.47-million backfilling project on a largely underwater property in Naga City when she was governor of Cebu in 2012.
Garcia contested the anti-graft body’s ruling and filed a motion for reconsideration before the Court of Appeals (CA).
Garcia believed she was “politically persecuted” as then Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales (now retired) is a close friend of retired Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., the father of the incumbent governor.
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