WHETHER it’s a threat or a political gimmick, the Cebu City Police Office is investigating the placement of a tarp with former mayor Michael Rama’s photo and the words “Ikaw sunod (You’re next).”
The tarpaulin was seen hanging from a skywalk in Barangay Basak Pardo. In the photo with Rama are Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., who was killed in a detention cell in November 2016, and lawyer Jonnah John Ungab, who was killed in an ambush last Feb. 19. Both Espinosa and his lawyer’s faces were marked with an “X.”
“I call it cheap political gimmickry because nobody wants to kill and place it in a tarpaulin,” Rama said.
Mayor Tomas Osmeña, for his part, denied he had a hand in the matter.
“He is entitled to think what he wants to think. He should be careful; that’s a warning to him. Don’t blame everything on me. Even the President says he is involved in illegal drugs,” he said. “Why is he blaming me for that also?”
Although he considered it as part of a political move, Rama said the matter worries his family, friends, and supporters. In August 2016 and February 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte named Rama as an alleged drug protector, a claim that the former Cebu City mayor has repeatedly denied.
“But that should not be taken for granted because it’s there. When I was wrongly named by the president, it bothered all, my family, my supporters, friends and even my relatives in the States. It caused worry to all,” he said.
Respect for Ungab clan
His allies in the council also condemned those behind the act, with Councilor Philip Zafra calling the matter “uncalled for and highly condemnable.”
Councilor Joel Garganera said that whoever was behind the tarpaulin has no respect for the family of Ungab, who are still mourning his recent death.
Rama and Osmeña were political allies for at least six terms, with Rama serving as Osmeña’s vice mayor for nine years, until they ran against one another in 2013 and 2016. Rama won in 2013; Osmeña regained the mayorship in 2016.
Meanwhile, Supt. Ryan Devaras, chief of the Intelligence and Detection Management Branch (IDMB) of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO), said that their office is open if Rama will file a complaint over the incident.
“We directed the Police Station 7 to investigate this,” Devaras said.
“Footage from closed-circuit television cameras will be checked so that we can pinpoint who put up this tarpaulin and we will question him,” Devaras said.
The former mayor can also request from the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 headquarters if he wants a police escort for his security, the official said.
“He is very welcome to air his complaint here in Cebu City. As for security, we will endorse him to the higher headquarters because that is the proper office that will approve his security escort,” Devaras said.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on February 24, 2018.
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