Gwendolyn Garcia

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Gwendolyn Fiel Garcia
Gwendolyn Garcia at a press briefing.jpg
Garcia in 2018, addressing a press briefing of the House of Representatives
Governor of Cebu
Assumed office
June 30, 2019
Vice GovernorHilario Davide III
Preceded byHilario Davide III
In office
June 30, 2004 – June 30, 2013
Suspended: December 19, 2012 – June 19, 2013
Vice GovernorGregorio G. Sanchez Jr. (2004–2011)
Agnes A. Magpale (2011–2013)
Preceded byPablo P. Garcia
Succeeded byAgnes A. Magpale (acting)
Hilario Davide III
Deputy Speaker of the
Philippine House of Representatives
In office
August 15, 2016 – August 15, 2018
House SpeakerPantaleon Alvarez (2016–2018)
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (2018)
Member of the
Philippine House of Representatives
from Cebu's 3rd district
In office
June 30, 2013 – June 30, 2019
Preceded byPablo John Garcia
Succeeded byPablo John Garcia
Personal details
Gwendolyn Fiel Garcia

(1955-10-12) October 12, 1955 (age 67)
Cebu City, Cebu, Philippines
Political partyPDP–Laban (2016–present)
One Cebu (2007–present)
Other political
United Nationalist Alliance (2012–2016)
Lakas–CMD/Lakas–Kampi–CMD (2004–2012)
RelationsPablo John F. Garcia (brother)
Byron F. Garcia (brother)
Winston F. Garcia (brother)
Marlon F. Garcia (brother)
Childrenincluding Christina[1]
Alma materUniversity of the Philippines Diliman (BA, LL.B)
ProfessionPolitician, businesswoman

Gwendolyn Fiel Garcia (born October 12, 1955) is a Filipina politician serving as the governor of Cebu since 2019, a position she previously held from 2004 and 2013—being the first woman to hold that office. She was the representative of Cebu's 3rd congressional district from 2013 to 2019 and concurrently served as a House Deputy Speaker from 2016 to 2018.

From December 2012 to June 2013, Garcia was suspended by the Office of the President following her conviction of graft by the Sandiganbayan.

Personal life[edit]

Garcia was born on October 12, 1955. She is the eldest daughter of former Cebu Governor and House Deputy Speaker Pablo P. Garcia (1925–2021) and Judge Esperanza "Inday" Fiel García (1931–2016).[citation needed]

Her youngest brother, Pablo John Garcia, is a lawyer-congressman.[2]

Another brother, Byron Garcia, has been a security consultant for the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC), which caught global attention in 2007 for its rendition of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" featuring its inmates.[citation needed]

Another brother, Winston Garcia, is the former general manager of the Government Service Insurance System (Philippines).[2][3][4]

Another brother, Marlon Garcia, is currently the Mayor of the Municipality of Barili, Cebu.[citation needed]

Gwendolyn Garcia was previously married to Eufrocino "Winnie" Codilla Jr., the son of former Representative Eufrocino Codilla Sr., Leyte's 4th congressional district.[5] She has three children including Christina Frasco.[6]

Education and career[edit]

Gov. Gwen Garcia (leftmost, second row) with her family

Garcia studied at Cebu's St. Theresa's College. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcast Communication from the University of the Philippines Diliman and studied law at the same university. She was awarded with the honorary degrees of Doctor of Humanities from Cebu Normal University (CNU) and Doctor of Philosophy in Technology Management from Cebu State College of Science and Technology (CSCST).[7]

Rep. Garcia with House of Representatives Speaker Feliciano Belmonte (left) and her father, former Representative Pablo P. Garcia (right)

Prior to being elected as governor, she was responsible for instituting various reforms at the Cebu Provincial Capitol as a Consultant on Systems Promotion and Development for three years. Earlier, she was Consultant on Financial Affairs and assisted her father in expanding the province's resources.

She was active in the private sector as chairperson of the Leyte Cooperative Bank from 1996 to 1998. She is, since 1998, the president and CEO of the GGC Group, Inc.

She is the head of the Regional Development Council, the Regional Peace and Order Council, and chairman of the Visayas RDCom (comprising RDC 6, RDC 7 and RDC 8), the Deputy Secretary General for Visayas of the League of Provinces of the Philippines (LPP), chairman of the board of the Mactan Cebu Bridge Management Board (MCBMB), and member of the board of the Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA).[7]

Political career[edit]

Garcia first entered politics in 2004, when she was elected as governor by 7,000 votes to succeed her father. Three years later, in 2007, she was reelected overwhelmingly, obtaining a lead of 500,000 votes. In 2010, she defeated Hilario Davide III, son of former Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr., for a third and final term by almost 100,000 votes.

Garcia is locally dubbed as the "So-called Iron Lady of Cebu" or the "Iron Lady of Southern Philippines" after preserving the territorial integrity of Cebu and putting the province back as the richest province in the country.[8]

During her three terms, Gov. Garcia claimed to have pursued a 12-point agenda for her administration, implementing economically viable development programs that effectively responded to the needs of the Cebuano constituency – in infrastructure, water, power, health, education, agriculture and food production, women and children, business, tourism and the environment. This, later on, became her 12-point plus 2 agenda of the government, with the inclusion of an enhanced information and communication portfolio that showcase the Province of Cebu and strong international relations aimed at creating beneficial linkages with the global community.

Rep. Garcia arriving at work at the House of Representatives

She publicly declared an all-out war against a communist insurgency and proceeded to put in place measures to achieve such end, resulting in the declaration of Cebu as an insurgency-free zone. The anti-criminality task forces of the Province bring to justice perpetrators of illegal fishing, those involved in the illegal drug trade and in human trafficking.

Garcia was elected as the representative of the third congressional district on May 13, 2013, over Pinamungahan Mayor Geraldine Yapha.

On February 12, 2018, the Office of the Ombudsman dismissed her from service for grave misconduct in connection with the purchase of a sprawling property underwater for close to P100 million. However, on April 23, 2014, the Court of Appeals (CA) Special 18th Division in Cebu City cleared Garcia of grave misconduct over the same case.[9]

During the 2019 Philippine election, Gwen Garcia running under the banner of PDP-Laban / One Cebu Party coalition, won against Liberal Party candidate Agnes Magpale as Governor of Cebu Province. Her brother Pablo John Garcia won the seat she vacated – the third congressional district of Cebu of the House of Representatives.

Controversies and criticisms[edit]


On December 19, 2012, Garcia was suspended by the office of then President Aquino for 6 months for grave abuse of authority.[10] Cebu Vice-Governor Agnes Magpale, was sworn immediately into office as acting governor.[10] Despite this, Garcia said she remains to be the governor.[11] She dared police on December 20, 2012, to forcibly remove her from the governor's office where she has been holed up since Wednesday after she was ordered suspended for six months, saying her removal could only happen "over my dead body."[11]

Graft charges[edit]

In 2016, Garcia faced 11 counts of graft for the anomalous construction of the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) in 2006.[12][13][14]

In 2018, the Philippine anti-graft office Sandiganbayan has begun to build up a criminal case against then Cebu Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia and other officials on the acquisition of the Balili property in 2008.[15] In 2020, the anti-graft court dismissed the charges against Garcia and seven others.[16]

Court of Appeals (CA) Reversal of Ombudsman Dismissal Order[edit]

In 2018, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales ordered her dismissal from service for grave misconduct in connection with the purchase of a P98.9-million property in Barili, Naga, Cebu.[17][18][19] More than half of property was discovered to be submerged underwater and was party of a mangrove area.[19] In 2012, Garcia tapped Supreme ABF Construction to supply backfilling materials for the submerged portion of the land for P24.47 million. The Ombudsman however found that Garcia had no authority from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) when she entered into the contract with the firm.[17][18]

This dismissal from service has been reversed by the Court of Appeals (CA) in 2019. The decision of the CA Special Division of Five was promulgated on May 10, 2019, three days before election day. If was signed by five associate justices but with two dissenting.[20] The reversal of CA allowed Gwen Garcia to run as Governor of Cebu which she won against Agnes Magpale.[21][22][23]

COVID-19 pandemic: public shaming and promotion of alternative medicine[edit]

On May 18, 2020, Garcia held a briefing with the local press where she usually goes over the latest COVID-19 updates in the province. This briefing was also aired on Facebook Live. During the press conference, she pulled out large sheets of paper with Facebook comments printed on them, while having the posts broadcast on half the screen through Sugbo News, the province's public information office. Garcia began to publicly shame a netizen in retaliation for Facebook comments criticizing and insulting her and her provincial government.[24] This action was met with criticism and backlash on social media, as well as the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) for publicly exposing and belittling the personal information of said netizen.[24]

In another incident on June 23, 2020, Garcia extensively shamed a doctor who had criticized the local mandate of relying on tuob (steam inhalation) to treat possible symptoms of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).[25][26] Garcia questioned the doctor's qualifications and undermined her years of experience, even telling her to run for office if she was confident about her medical knowledge.[25] This event was once again met with tremendous backlash online, especially from those within the medical community.[25][26]

Probe into Garcia brothers' deaths[edit]

Governor Gwen Garcia, with Congressman Pablo Garcia, launched an inquiry to ascertain the death of her brothers: former Barili Mayor Nelson Garcia and Dumanjug Mayor Marlon Garcia.[27] Rep. Garcia said their brothers tested positive for COVID-19 "but they recovered and what happened after was the cause of their deaths."[28] Governor said that based on the death certificate, Nelson Garcia died due to "immediate cardio pulmonary arrest secondary to probable massive embolism". For Marlon Garcia, the cause of death was "septic shock secondary to catheter related blood stream infection, ventilator associated pneumonia."


  1. ^ Mercado, Neil Arwin (May 30, 2022). "Sara Duterte spox Christina Frasco to serve as tourism secretary". Retrieved May 30, 2022.
  2. ^ a b Profile, Pablo Garcia, Accessed 30 July 2022.
  3. ^ "services.inquirer, The Garcias, the Aboitizes and Meralco". Archived from the original on September 30, 2011. Retrieved September 22, 2008.
  4. ^, Pablo John Garcia: Following in his father's footsteps
  5. ^ "Ormocanons say goodbye to the 'man of the masses'". October 25, 2016. Retrieved June 17, 2022.
  6. ^ "Meet Cebu's defiant governor". RAPPLER. December 19, 2012. Retrieved June 17, 2022.
  7. ^ a b Official Profile of Governor
  8. ^ Oaminal, Clarence Paul (September 27, 2019). "The three legal musketeers of Cebu Province". The Freeman. Retrieved January 30, 2021.
  9. ^ Bernal, Buena (April 25, 2014). "CA clears Cebu's Garcia of grave misconduct in land deal". Rappler. Retrieved August 20, 2020.
  10. ^ a b Sorote, Ryan. "Aquino suspends Cebu Gov Gwen Garcia". Rappler. Retrieved June 25, 2020.
  11. ^ a b Napallacan, Jhunnex (December 20, 2012). "Gwen Garcia slams suspension: 'Over my dead body'". Inquirer. Retrieved June 25, 2020.
  12. ^ Cahinhinan, John Carlo (April 5, 2016). "Ex-Cebu guv Garcia faces 11 counts of graft". Sunstar. Retrieved June 25, 2020.
  13. ^ Quintas, Kristine B. (July 6, 2016). "For "overpriced" CICC: Raps vs Gwen, 11 others go to Sandiganbayan". Philstar. Retrieved June 25, 2020.
  14. ^ "Gwen Garcia, 11 others face charges for anomalous P830million CICC project". Office of the Ombudsman (Press release). April 5, 2016. Retrieved June 25, 2020.
  15. ^ "Graft office building case vs. Gwen Garcia". Sunstar. December 10, 2018. Retrieved June 24, 2020.
  16. ^ Israel, Dale G. (December 2, 2020). "Cebu gov relieved after Sandiganbayan dismisses criminal raps for 2008 purchase of Balili property". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved February 4, 2021.
  17. ^ a b "Deputy Speaker Gwen Garcia ordered dismissed over grave misconduct". ABS-CBN News. Retrieved June 25, 2020.
  18. ^ a b "Ombudsman dismisses Cebu Congresswoman Gwen Garcia". Rappler. Retrieved June 25, 2020.
  19. ^ a b Jesus, Julliane Love De (February 12, 2018). "House Deputy Speaker sacked over purchase of P98M underwater property". Retrieved June 25, 2020.
  20. ^ So, Michelle P. (May 11, 2019). "Court of Appeals junks Ombudsman case v. Gwen". Sunstar. Retrieved October 13, 2020.
  21. ^ So, Michelle P. (May 11, 2019). "Court of Appeals junks Ombudsman case v. Gwen". Sunstar. Retrieved October 13, 2020.
  22. ^ Punay, Edu. "Court of Appeals allows Gwendolyn Garcia to run". Retrieved October 13, 2020.
  23. ^ "Garcia cleared to run for governor of Cebu". Manila Standard. Retrieved October 13, 2020.
  24. ^ a b Macasero, Ryan. "CHR slams Gwen Garcia for publicly shaming netizen". Rappler. Retrieved June 24, 2020.
  25. ^ a b c Juan, Ratziel San. "Internet users react to Gwen Garcia's alleged 'doctor-shaming' video". Philstar. Retrieved June 24, 2020.
  26. ^ a b Nelz, Jay (June 24, 2020). "Gwen Garcia, Cebu Gov. Shames Doctor For Criticizing Steam Inhalation as COVID-19 Medication". Philippine News. Retrieved June 24, 2020.
  27. ^ "Garcia family seeks probe of hospital where their 2 brothers died". Rappler. Retrieved October 13, 2020.
  28. ^ "My brothers died not from COVID, but from hospital-acquired bacteria – Cebu Rep. Garcia". Manila Bulletin. September 17, 2020. Retrieved October 13, 2020.

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