Mike objects to ‘diversion’-A A +A
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama is considering filing a complaint against Rep. Tomas Osmeña if the latter proceeds with diverting P400 million to road projects in the first district of Cebu Province.
Rama said that Osmeña’s move can be considered technical malversation of public funds.
Osmeña recently offered P400 million to Rep. Eduardo Gullas (Cebu Province, 1st district) to fund the ongoing widening of the national highway, from the City of Naga to Sibonga town, among other projects.
Interviewed separately, Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia clarified yesterday that the P400 million that Osmeña offered to Gullas is from the National Government’s coffers.
She explained that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) realigned the funds since Osmeña will not be using it for projects in his district.
In his news conference yesterday, Rama said that if the funds have to be realigned, these should still be used to fund projects within Cebu City.
The amount was originally intended for the construction of a flyover in Barangay Lahug, which Rama opposed.
Osmeña then realigned the funds to cover six road concreting projects in his district but these were again opposed by the mayor, saying the roads don’t need to be concreted because they are still in good condition.
Rama said the funds should instead be used to lay concrete on dilapidated roads in the mountain barangays, rather than go to other cities.
“I will confer with my lawyers. I am ready to sue if I have the documents. But it will still depend on how my team sees and appreciates the situation,” he said.
“He has become a Santa Claus too early,” Rama said of Osmeña.
The mayor said, though, that filing a case against Osmeña is not his priority at present, since he is still preparing for the filing of the certificates of candidacy of the Team Rama slate anytime between Oct. 1 and 5.
Rama said that if Osmeña insists on blaming him for blocking his projects, the congressman should not let the south district suffer.
“Di man ako nibotar niya ug nagpalingkod niya diha sa kongreso oy, ang mga tawo sa syudad man (I’m not the one who voted for him and elected him into office as congressman, the people of the city did),” he said.
In a separate news conference yesterday, Osmeña defended his move to realign the P400 million to the projects in Gullas’ district.
He also clarified that the amount is not from his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) but from funds he was able to secure from the National Government.
The congressman explained that the funds can be realigned to any road project, as long as it will be used for a national road.
Osmeña argued that the road widening project in the City of Naga to Sibonga will benefit not only Cebu Province but also Cebu City, since it will serve as an extension of the Cebu South Coastal Road.
“It will help make urban areas accessible to the countryside. You know, many are coming here in the city for employment because the industries are here and so we want industries to move out. I believe this road is very vital,” he said.
He admitted that another reason he offered the P400-million fund to Gullas is that it will be bad for Rama, considering that the latter has been turning down his projects.
This should also demonstrate to the Province’s constituents that he and the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) can access funds for the improvement of the Province, especially if they elect lawyer Hilario “Junjun” Davide III as governor and Cebu City Councilor Raul Alcoseba as Provincial Board member in the first district, he said.
Based on the records of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the P400 million will be used to improve and widen six bridges on N. Bacalso Ave. (P270.6 million), build a lined canal along N. Bacalso Ave. to Carcar City (P23.3 million), build the Carcar Bypass Project (P50 million), and construct the Carcar Bypass Road (P56 million).
Rama has not received yet any reply from the Liberal Party (LP) on his letter to President Aquino asking that he and the rest of Team Rama be given a certificate of nomination for the 2013 polls.
Rama said he will remain an LP member until he receives a reply from the LP headquarters.
“My letter has to be acted upon officially lest we will be accused of not being circumspect. There is going to be a right place for me,” he said.
In the province, Davide said that LP and the Alayon Party headed by Gullas already met at the LP headquarters in Manila yesterday for a possible coalition in the first district.
No deal yet
“But there is no concrete agreement yet,” he said.
If the coalition pushes through, Davide believes it will be to the advantage of his gubernatorial bid since he will already get the support of first district mayors.
Governor Garcia, for her part,says Osmeña seems to be confused about the source of the funds.
“Kay gikan man gud ni sa usa pud ka congressman nga maglibog pud usahay kung kanang sakyanan gi-donate ba na niya or gi-donate ba na ngadto sa syudad o gipalit ba sa iyang igsoon (This is coming from a congressman who gets confused whether some cars were donated to him or to Cebu City, or if his sister bought these),” Garcia told reporters yesterday.
She was referring to the latest controversy involving Osmeña, who was accused of violating some laws when he used two Dodge Chargers that were supposedly donated to the City Government by a businessman who has a transaction with the City.
Last Saturday, Gullas announced that he is grateful to Osmeña because the latter gave up his P400-million congressional initiatives, which resulted in “savings” for the DPWH.
He said this prompted DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson to realign the amount for projects in the province’s first district.
Since it is not Osmeña’s money, Garcia said yesterday, it is not the congressman himself who realigned it.
Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale welcomed the realignment, saying the people from the province will benefit from the projects.
“For me, those from the province are the ones who will benefit from this, particularly those going to the south. That area is very busy and congested,” Magpale said.
Magpale would not comment on the possibility that the realignment of funds is in exchange for the first district Alayon Party’s support for the local candidates of the Liberal Party.
“Well, that’s the political analysis of some people… but I cannot comment on that because I’m looking at the advantage that it would give our constituents,” the vice governor added.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 25, 2012.