What should Rama do now?

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Sunday, July 6, 2014


CEBU CITY -- He gets points for his consensus-seeking leadership style. But Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama also faces several challenges, like making it easier to do business and decongesting traffic on busy streets, business leaders said.

“There’s a long list but the most urgent would be the ease of doing business; improving peace and order, like providing security cameras in all major public areas; appropriate incentives and penalties for priority programs like waste segregation; and coordinating with other government agencies such as the public works department about road networks,” said Ma. Teresa Chan, president of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI).

Rama began last Tuesday the second year of his second term.

 WHAT DOES HE LEAN TOWARD?
Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama would be wise to continue his consensus-seeking style, business leaders say, as the mayor starts the second year of his second term. Sun.Star Cebu photojournalist Ruel Rosello took this photo as the mayor was checking road obstructions last week in the Banilad-Talamban corridor, like this electric post.(Sun.Star photo/Ruel Rosello)


He told the council in his State of the City Address last Wednesday that he intended to pursue 20 projects until 2016, including a new city hospital, housing for City Hall employees, emergency exits in public schools, traffic solutions like road-widening, and the Bus Rapid Transit system.

He also reported that the City has P1.7 billion cash in banks and remains “seaworthy” despite the challenges it has had to face, like the calamities of 2013.

Cebu Business Club President Gordon Alan Joseph urged the mayor to continue to focus on traffic management and enforcement, peace and order, waste management, sewage, flooding and water supply.

“Without these basic components, Cebu City’s growth will still be stifled. It is also time to update our zoning laws and land use studies to a globally competitive standard,” he said.

Joseph commended the mayor for supporting the Mega Cebu 2050 vision and the Metro Cebu Development and Coordinating Board (MCDCB).

Collaboration

“I like the fact that the mayor is always seeking to build consensus and collaboration, which again is a basic requirement for development, as opposed to stifling development for narrow political interests. The council needs to stand behind the mayor to help Cebu City achieve its objectives,” Joseph added.

Some groups in Cebu City also appealed to the mayor to solve problems like the lack of housing and to take steps to protect the environment.
Marlene Paracuelles, head of the Urban Poor Alliance (UP-All), believes the mayor should make it his priority to relocate informal settlers, especially those living in danger zones.

“They are very vulnerable to risks. They should be immediately relocated by the City Government,” she said.

Addressing that problem has been delegated by the mayor to the Reduction Danger Zones (RedZ), which former city councilor Atty. Jose Daluz III heads.

Redz was tasked to handle, among others, the relocation of an estimated 10,000 illegal settlers living within the three-meter easement of five major rivers: Guadalupe, Mahiga, Bulacao, Kinalumsan and Lahug.

Politics

Last year, the City set aside P100 million to acquire and develop relocation sites.

Paracuelles also asked the mayor to serve the public regardless of political affiliations.

Paracuelles, who is a known supporter of the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan, said she and her organization were removed from the Local Housing Board when the mayor started his second term last year.

Her organization represents more than a hundred homeowners’ associations in the different barangays, she said.

“We are frustrated about this. I hope he stops politicizing and drawing the line between his supporters and the supporters of others,” she said.
For her part, Atty. Gloria-Estenzo Ramos of the Philippine Earth Justice Center Inc. said the mayor still needs to focus more on environmental protection.

She said the City has to strictly enforce anti-pollution laws such as the Solid Waste Management Act, the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.

3 out of 10

There is also a need for the City, Ramos said, to focus on adaptation and mitigation of climate change risks, as well as disaster risk reduction and management.

“If I were to rate the performance (in addressing environmental concerns), it is three out of 10. The City should beef up perhaps the environmental office and set up the much needed sustainability council,” she said.

Ramos said she hopes that the bike lane ordinance, drafted by Councilor Nida Cabrera, will be supported and approved by the mayor, as it will be another way of protecting the environment.

“It will be great if it will become a reality,” she said.

Chan of CCCI said she appreciated the mayor’s mantra—“Together, we can make things happen”—because “it has so far produced results.”

“His immediately quantifiable accomplishments in the barangays are impressive. The CCMC (Cebu City Medical Center) project is a major statement that he wants the best for his constituents and should be supported,” Chan said. (PDF/With KOC)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 07, 2014.

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