TO prove what he said was the opposition’s “acts of deception,” Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña showed news reporters yesterday four basketball courts where his and City Hall’s boards were removed by opponents and replaced with boards bearing their names.
Homeowners in two sitios in Barangay Lahug said that Barangay Captain Mary Ann de los Santos removed the boards of the mayor and the City Government sometime last month.
In Sitio Lower Banica, Ricky Sanchez said he returned the mayor’s boards immediately after these were removed by de los Santos’ men, only for these to be removed once again.
He claimed that the barangay captain threatened and harassed him after he put up the mayor’s boards, which are still in good condition but are now lying idle in the waiting shed.
The goals stand on a private property whose owners gave the mayor their consent for the city to cement it and use it for a court.
“Akong gibalik pag usab ang kang mayor unya giari na man hinoon ko ni Mary Ann, giingnan ko na ikiha daw ko nya kay wala daw koy katungod pagtangtang sa iyang board. Gistoryaan ra ko niya pero gitulisok ko nya pag-ayo,” he told reporters yesterday. (I put up the mayor’s board again but Mary Ann told me that she would sue me for taking down her boards. She just talked to me but she kept on wagging her finger at me.)
Samson Go, president of the homeowners’ association in Lower Banica, said he also gave instructions to return the mayor’s board but he alleged that de los Santos sent around 20 barangay policemen and tanods to keep them from doing so.
In Sitio Upper Banica, homeowners said de los Santos would not allow them to return the mayor’s board.
But de los Santos denied the allegation that she had the mayor’s boards removed, saying that her basketball boards have been installed there all this time and it was her board that the mayor had ordered removed.
She called the mayor a “liar” for twisting the facts. De los Santos is running for north district congressman and will face the mayor’s ally, Rachel “Cutie” del Mar, in the May 10 election.
“But you’ve already seen the situation yourself, which has been going on for a long time. I just wanted to prove to you that they are masters of deception and propaganda... They want to show everyone that they are martyrs, that the mayor is terrorizing them,” said Osmeña.
Aside from the boards in Lahug, Osmeña also identified goals in Sitio Langub in Barangay Kalunasan that were installed by the City and originally had boards paid for by the City.
Yesterday, it had boards bearing the name of businessman Jonathan “Atan” Guardo, his opponent in the south district congressional race.
“These are the City’s goals, even this he should not touch. What right does he have to put his boards and claim the goal as his and put his name there?... And I’m the one accused of terrorism?” he said.
The same is true for Sitio Upper Banica in Lahug, whose residents said that de los Santos removed the mayor’s boards.
Osmeña said de los Santos can be held liable for trespassing, destruction of government property and illegal billboards.
“It’s a matter of public interest that people know what their candidates are all about, people with no moral values who think they can buy votes and fool the people. They fabricate things just so they can get elected. They have nothing to show,” he continued.
In a phone interview last night, de los Santos said it’s the mayor who fabricated stories and twisted the facts of the incident.
She again challenged the mayor to go around with her and pinpoint to her the boards that she had allegedly removed.
De los Santos reminded the mayor that City Hall has neglected her barangay and did not provide them any service or project from 2008 and 2009, yet he is forcing his projects on her constituents now that it is an election year.
“Gituis na man niya ang storya, and I’m not surprised because he’s very good at that. I will not accede to his bullying, bakakon na siya (he’s a liar)... I did not terrorize anybody.
All my boards have been existing there ever since, sila ang nitangtang sa akong (they were the ones who removed my) boards,” she said.
De los Santos added that she merely returned her boards when Osmeña’s allies in the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan tore them down and replaced them with their own boards.