4 dads leave BOPK

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014


FOUR Cebu City councilors decided to leave the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) to form an independent bloc in the City Council, in the wake of disagreements on how the South Road Properties (SRP) should be sold.

Councilor Gerardo Carillo said he and Councilors Noel Wenceslao, Roberto Cabarubias and Richard “Richie” Osmeña have the numbers to sway votes in the council, which has five Team Rama allies and eight BOPK allies as members.

“The four of us agreed to take this stand, to be independent from BOPK or Team Rama. We will not take orders from anyone. Whatever is good for the City, that’s what we will support,” Carillo told Sun.Star Cebu yesterday.

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Contrary to speculations, he added they have no plans to defect to Team Rama.

What convinced them

Carillo said they agreed on this last Monday, but the idea of leaving BOPK was floated as early as July, when Mayor Michael Rama and majority of the councilors were charged by lawyer Reymelio Delute before the Office of the President for the distribution of P20,000 calamity assistance to all city officials and employees who were not affected by any calamity.

BOPK leader and former mayor Tomas Osmeña knew that Delute would file the complaints but did not stop him from doing so.

“We thought to ourselves at that time that only Mike and Tommy are fighting, but nganong napagan man mi (Why are we the ones being sued)? So many of us thought it would be best to stay neutral, but in the end only the four of us agreed to leave,” Carillo said.

But Osmeña said he saw it coming as early as the May 2013 mayoral election.

What upset him, he said, is that none of the four councilors told him about their plans.

“We’re hurt and we’re hurt really bad. But in the end it’s not me they’re hurting.

It’s the people who will suffer because of how they will vote in the council… I’m angry because they try to make it appear that they are doing it for the people when they’re only doing this for themselves,” said Osmeña.

Allies

All four councilors were loyal BOPK allies since they joined politics, even when Wenceslao and Cabarrubias were still barangay captains.

Carillo was with BOPK since he ran for his first term in 2004. Cabarrubias ran for his first term in 2007 and Wenceslao for his first term in 2010, also under BOPK.

Richie, the nephew of the former mayor, joined BOPK when he first ran in 2007.

In a phone interview yesterday, Osmeña said that everyone in the council should be independent and take a neutral stand, but he doubts the four would do so.

“Of course they’ll join Team Rama. They’re not fooling anyone. They waited till we we’re out of the country and now they’re just trying to save face,” he said.

In a phone interview yesterday, Carillo said they finally decided to leave BOPK following the disagreement with Osmeña and other councilors on how the SRP lots should be disposed of.

Carillo, Cabarrubias, Wenceslao and Richie joined Team Rama councilors as authors of a resolution authorizing the mayor to sell a 45-hectare portion of the SRP through public bidding.

‘Sell, don’t borrow’

But Osmeña wants that only a five-hectare portion be sold every year through an unsolicited proposal to allow the value of other properties to increase over time.

He clarified that he was only stating his opinion and arguing a point, and that he was not telling his allies what to do.

“We respect Tommy Osmeña being our leader but much as we respect him, whatever is for the good of our constituents, that’s what we will vote for. Mike wants to take out a loan to pay off the SRP debts but we also don’t agree with that. For us, it’s best to sell lots and use the proceeds to pay for the loan,” Carillo said.

Sun.Star Cebu called and sent text messages to Wenceslao and Richie Osmeña but they could not be reached for comment.

Cabarrubias was still out of the country as of yesterday.

Carillo said their group agreed to set aside politics and just support what is good for the city, whether it’s a Team Rama or BOPK initiative.

“The four of us agreed that we will vote as a bloc, one for all and all for one. We
can sway votes to get the majority,” he added.

While Carillo said that they are open to discussing things with BOPK again, Osmeña seems to have closed his door on the four councilors.

‘Good idea’

“No, he’s not welcome to sit down with me. What’s the point? Don’t pretend anymore.

I’m not stupid so please don’t insult my intelligence,” said Osmeña.

As for talks that BOPK will submit a petition to the City Council to subject the resolution authorizing Mayor Rama to sell SRP lots to a people’s initiative, the former mayor said he has no plans to initiate it “but it’s a good idea.”

A people’s initiative, where registered voters of the city can vote for the resolution in the council or the Commission on Elections, is seen to further delay any sale of
SRP lots.

In his press conference at the City Hall yesterday, Mayor Rama said that Osmeña should just leave his administration alone and let them dispose of the SRP lots according to what is allowed by law.

Instead of getting in his way, he asked Osmeña to help the city officials.

“Please let this administration operate because we have a mandate, we won the election. The mandate is for me to manage the city and I need everybody’s help, including yours. If you really love our city, just accept your loss,” he told Osmeña.

Tax collections

Meanwhile, a Team Rama ally responded to Osmeña’s claim that Rama is selling SRP lots because of his administration’s poor tax collection.

Records of the City Treasurer’s Office showed that during Osmeña’s last term, from 2007 to 2009, the City collected some P3.6 billion in real property and business taxes.

During Rama’s first term, from 2011 to 2013, the City collected some P5.4 billion of the same taxes.

But City Treasurer Diwa Cuevas said the figures are not comparable. Collection in the last three years is higher because there are more real estate units and business establishments in the city compared to the time when Osmeña was mayor, she said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 20, 2014.

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