PLEDGES of donations to the building fund of the Cebu City Medical Center were just pledges. They were not cash or goods that the pledgers gave or are legally bound to give.
Just words on paper? Not even that. There’s no paper. No document containing the promises. Maybe not even a list of those who committed.
Which is now another “bone of contention” between Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmea and Michael Rama, the mayor who preceded him. (Mike beat Tomas in 2013 and Tomas clobbered Mike in 2016).
The mayor wants Mike and Councilor Joy Pesquera who jointly solicited the donations on a trip during Rama’s term to the U.S. (a) to account for the pledges and (b) at least give a list of the would-donors.
Tomas failed on demand “a” and is being stonewalled on demand “b.”
BOPK and Barug Team Rama, whose camps Tomas and Mike represent, both have political interest to promote or protect.
BOPK wants to show that Rama duped city residents by making them believe his U.S. sortie with Joy succeeded in raising huge money for the hospital. It even suggests that Joy and Mike might not have reported some cash donations.
Barug, on the other hand, intends to keep the credit for the pledges, wishing to collect them for the city when (or if) City Hall changes mayors.
Why wont BOPK solicit its own donations, Mike said last
year, Barug will collect the pledges he got.
Not city property
Both are not entirely right.
▪ Pledges and donations are given to the city, not to the officials who solicited them, much less to their political party. Rama however can keep his list, if that exists. It’s not property of the city. What belongs to City Hall is the cash or property that the donors will actually give.
▪ The pledges were not cash or property that Rama and Pesquera could pocket for themselves. They were, again, mere promises. But Tomas wagged a firm finger when he asked about small donations given by individuals in cash or checks. In fundraisers, there are always such donations. Thus, the demand for accounting becomes relevant.
▪ On the public’s side, people want to know the nature of those promises. What exactly did a promise of Fil-ams in one U.S. city “to finance the construction” of the fifth floor or of compatriots in another city “to take care” of the sixth floor mean? If the pledges weren’t in writing, not only were they unenforceable, what the pledgers bound themselves to do were vague and indefinite. That may explain the reluctance to account for something that might be nebulous.
Tomas exploited a potential deception by pressing Rama for details. Rama could’ve inflated what were possibly just b.s. when Mike was asked what he brought home upon his return.
The politicians on both sides may soon abandon the issue and turn to other fights to pick. The city, to be sure, will find resources to complete and equip the city hospital. And if they can find time, Tomas and Margot may even undertake a similar U.S. fundraiser.
Which may reject or validate their suspicions about the results of the Mike-and-Joy trip.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on August 25, 2017.
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