Congressman to sue Cebu mayor-A A +A
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
CEBU CITY -- Representative Tomas Osmeña intends to file a letter-complaint today, Thursday, asking the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas to place Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama under preventive suspension.
“Rama is using and abusing his authority right before our very eyes. We have a clear case of grave abuse of official position and authority and flagrant breach of public trust, causing grave and irreparable damage to Cebu City and its people,” Osmeña said in his complaint.
Asked for comment, Mayor Rama said: “I will pray for them. Let’s just work or else we will lose our focus, to the prejudice of many.”
Among the issues raised by the congressman is the mayor’s alleged bullying of department heads by directing members of the local finance committee and some department heads of the special accounts not to appear before the Cebu City Council for a pre-budget hearing last October 27.
The pre-budget hearing was aimed to initially tackle the P11.8-billion budget proposed by the executive department, said to be the highest budget proposed by a local government unit in the country.
Rama, through a letter addressed to Councilor Margarita Osmeña, directed the department heads not to attend the pre-budget hearing because the executive intends to defend the budget proposal during the full budget hearing. The councilor chairs the committee on budget and finance and is the congressman’s wife.
However, on the first scheduled budget hearing on November 4, Rama insisted on having assistant city treasurer for administration Emma Villarete present revenue sources to the Council, instead of Acting City Treasurer Tessie Camarillo.
The council, though, would only recognize Camarillo and called for her to present the revenue sources.
This prompted Rama to call all department heads and seek the suspension of the budget hearing.
“Rama continues to insist on his appointment of Villarete...As a result, the budget deliberations have been disrupted and seriously delayed, thereby creating a looming crisis on the passage of the 2012 budget,” read Representative Osmeña’s complaint.
He invoked grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty, abuse of authority, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, a violation of the Local Government Code of 1991, as the first basis for Rama’s suspension.
Rama, he said, prohibited executive department heads to assist the council in preparing the budget as mandated under the Local Government Code.
The congressman also cited alleged violations of Article 131 of the Revised Penal Code because Rama, on more than one occasion, ordered department heads not to attend budget meetings.
Article 233 of the same code also penalizes public officers for “refusal of assistance.”
Osmeña called it an attempt at usurpation of authority when Rama insisted on the appointment of Villarete as the one in charge of the City Treasurer’s Office, when it is the Bureau of Local Government Finance that makes the appointment.
Lastly, Osmeña alleged there was concealment of documents punishable under Article 226 of the Revised Penal Code when Rama failed to forward three communications for the council from the Department of Budget Management, on some unauthorized allowances.
The communications were coursed through the mayor’s office.
“Order the immediate preventive suspension of Rama pending his investigation, so that Rama can stop harassing the executive department heads and disobeying our laws with impunity and for the council to continue unfettered in its duty to pass a balanced budget,” concluded Osmeña’s six-page complaint.
Rama has yet to receive a copy of the complaint and when he does, he said he will refer the matter to his lawyers.
Rama acknowledged it is his predecessor’s right to file a complaint against him and it is also his right to answer the complaint.
The mayor said it’s part of the hazards of the job and he is not worried about the preventive suspension because when he was sued for the clearing of Mahiga Creek, his suspension was also requested.
“Wala ta’y mahimo ana (We can’t do anything about that)... Let’s just see because there is justice and justice provides a chance for us to air our side,” said Rama. (With Elly T. Bolonos/Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on November 24, 2011.