Rama takes offense at Aquino’s dig

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Saturday, April 20, 2013


“IT IS an irresponsible statement.”

This was Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama’s reaction to President Benigno Aquino III’s statement blaming him for the worsening traffic in the city for blocking the flyover projects.

Aquino issued the statement during the rally of the Liberal Party (LP) and Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) in front of the Provincial Capitol last Friday night.

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In an interview with Sun.Star Cebu yesterday, Rama quipped he was not the one who caused traffic but BOPK and LP, for forcing the closure of a part of Osmeña Blvd. for their rally.

The City Traffic Operations Management (Citom) has said that the rally caused heavy traffic on Gen. Maxilom Ave., Gorordo Ave. and the streets of F. Ramos and Imus, among others.

“Di sila mosulti ana. Sila ma’y nibuhat sa ilang kaugalingon og traffic. (They shouldn’t say that, considering they’re the ones who caused traffic.)

That (blaming me) is an irresponsible statement,” he said.

TWG report

As to the flyovers, Rama pointed out that his stand that such projects will not solve the traffic problem is supported by a report of the technical working group (TWG) of the Metro Cebu Land Transportation Studies.

The TWG had said that flyovers are not among the recommended traffic solutions in previous transportation studies.

They said that completed transportation and land use studies for Metro Cebu identified the following solutions to the traffic congestion: opening of new or by-pass roads; the improvement, repair and widening of existing roads; traffic enforcement and management; adoption of a strategic highway network; and promotion of a mass transport system. 

Rama also said he does not believe that 65,000 attended the LP-BOPK rally last Friday night, adding that Osmeña Blvd. is a smaller area compared with that of Plaza Independencia, where Team Rama held their two previous rallies.

When Team Rama held a rally with UNA last Feb. 12, the crowd was pegged at 50,000. During Team Rama’s local rally last April 6, the crowd estimate reached 30,000.

‘Forced’ participation

Rama then said that the crowd who graced the LP-BOPK were only forced to join the activity.

“Ang among rally panag-abot (sa katawhan), ang ila panaghakot. Gihakot man og dump trucks. Ang amo naglakaw ra gyud ug nihuman pa sa rally.

Ang ila wa pa nahuman, nanguli na. (Our crowd gathered, but their crowd was rounded up in dump trucks. Our participants stayed until the rally ended. Theirs left before it was even over.) That only shows that they were forced to come,” he said.

However, Osmeña said the people who joined their rally are loyal BOPK supporters. The congressman thanked them, particularly the senior citizens, for joining the activity.

“They endured great discomfort just to show their solidarity. That’s truly in the tradition of the ‘bisag unsaon’ of my late father.

He once told me to never lose faith in the Cebuanos. Now I know how he felt. Thanks to all who came. You all showed that actors and actresses can’t make you win,” he said, apparently a dig at Team Rama’s rally, which several celebrities attended.

In a related development, Osmeña denied reports that BOPK distributed packed meals to its supporters who attended the rally.

Osmeña said the only food they distributed were the 500 siopao for their staff and BOPK candidates.

Under Comelec Resolution 9616, it is unlawful to “give or accept free of charge, whether directly or indirectly, transportation, food, drinks or things of value; and giving or contributing, whether directly or indirectly, money or things of value during the five hours before and after a public meeting, on the day before the election, and on Election Day.”

Complaint

Meanwhile, Barangay Quiot Captain Jun Ramos also belied Mayor Rama’s pulong-pulong statements that he showered the barangay with P17 million worth of projects.

Ramos wrote the mayor’s chief-of-staff Philip Zafra a letter citing the actual projects that reached the barangay.

He said that only over P6.5 million in financial assistance reached the barangay.

The barangay spent P309,000 for a materials recovery facility while P191,000 is still in the bank under Quiot’s account. The bidding for P6 million in social priority projects will be in June yet.

Rama said that Quiot should not make a big deal out of this because the barangay still received millions in projects.

The mayor also said that the Project Implementation and Monitoring Office (Primo) provided him with the list of the projects intended for Quiot, which are worth about P17 million.

“Millions man kaha ilang nadawat? Nganong mo-reklamo gud tawon sila (Why should they complain when they received millions in projects?)” said Rama.

Shelved?

Ramos enumerated seven projects that were purportedly for Quiot but which they did not receive.

Ramos noted that barangay officials were surprised by the proposed construction of a four-story, four-classroom building for the Quiot Elementary School and a proposed lined canal project.

The village chief said such projects were not discussed in their sessions.

A parallel drainage system, said Ramos, “is a 2011 promise of (Councilor Jose Daluz III) that never came, while a grouted riprap in San Carlos Heights is part of the 2011 Annual Investment Plan that remains a dream.”

Concreting of a basketball court and another concrete lined canal construction box are so-called fantasies, said Ramos.

Another P6.6 million as 2013 financial assistance also remains out of the hands of Barangay Quiot.

Mayor Rama explained that this is because the barangay has not liquidated previous financial assistance.

“How I wish we could have the projects in our grasp. It would be abnormal for us to refuse a project of this magnitude. I am spending my own money for road concreting and some drainage projects,” Ramos’s letter to Zafra read.

Rama belittled Ramos’s complaint because the latter is associated with his opponent, first-term congressman and now mayoral aspirant Osmeña.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 21, 2013.

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