Rama’s manna from heaven

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Thursday, June 26, 2014


CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama hosted last Wednesday another “interactive” forum with the Cebu media—the third one—at the Senior Citizens Center in the former Kawit Island-portion of the South Road Properties (SRP). The format was the same: media people ask questions, the mayor answers and City Hall department heads listen.

The forum was meant to showcase the Rama administration’s achievement in the past year, and it did so via a video presentation before the mayor’s introductory statement.

Among them: the setting up of a command center to deal with disasters, the conduct of drug tests, rehabilitation of fire-hit Sitio Lawis in Barangay Lorega and continuing projects like the reinvention of the old Taboan Public Market and Magellan’s Park, the construction of the new Cebu City Medical Center and approval of the Bus Rapid Transit plan.

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When the mayor is the one solely answering questions, which is what he does in forums like this, it is difficult to get the particulars. He favors broad strokes and awkward words that conflict with the preference by journalists for the simple but detailed.

On the CCMC. The mayor assured that he and concerned personnel are tracking funding pledges, which are already numerous, for the P1.5-billion “people’s hospital” project.

“I am meticulous,” he said. He should have added “optimist.” Despite the failure of Malacañang to help fund the project, Rama is still expecting “manna” from the National Government because “the President is a kind-hearted person.”

On Cebu City and Asean integration. Here, the mayor talked about livability and the
oal of “completeness.” The city must improve in all aspects—heritage, culture, environment, delivery of basic services. As it is now, he noted, the city’s esteros and canals are dirty and some city residents don’t even have toilets (they throw human waste on roofs).

On the Commission on Audit (COA). He continued his previous rant against the COA report that is not flattering to his running the city’s affairs. He criticized the release of audit reports to the media, noting that this is not done in the corporate world where he once was part of. He also expressed displeasure over the auditing process.

“Hear first before condemning, not condemn first before hearing,” he admonished. He also questioned the words used in audit reports, that these should be “decent” not harsh. To the media: “Use the pen to build a nation, not destroy.”

Other interesting points:

--Rama distributed photocopies of a letter from the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) 7 Director Efren Carreon dated June 11, 2014 informing him of the approval by the Neda Board of the city’s BRT project. The letter acknowledged that the BRT project was endorsed to Neda by the Regional Development Council (RDC) for approval “during your (Rama’s) term as RDC chairperson.”

The mayor obviously wanted to refute claims by former mayor Tomas Osmeña of his supposed leading role in the approval of the project.

--When asked by blogger Ruben Licera about battling the problem of the spread of HIV-Aids, the mayor instead talked about the Citicenter in Barangay Kamagayan. He sought a commitment from City Engineer Jose Marie Poblete on the structure’s demolition.

“July,” Poblete muttered. The mayor linked lessening the cases of HIV-Aids in the city to the further development of the Kamagayan area.

--The mayor admitted he could have done better had he gotten the majority in the Cebu City Council (it is currently dominated by the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan). “Pero asa ra man na kun mag-majority na ta sa council sa 2016,” he said. I heard some clapping there.

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 27, 2014.

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