THE Cebu City attorney will be filing today criminal and administrative charges against former mayor Tomas Osmeña and 37 others for cannibalizing the mayor’s office days before he stepped down on June 30. In all probability, it will be the first case that the city’s new lawyer will be filing since his appointment and it is ironic that it should be against the city’s former chief executive.
The development will not come as a surprise to Osmeña. He said he expected the charges and that he is ready to face them.
He must have already consulted his lawyers even before he hired the workers who removed everything from his office and was advised that it was not wrong.
Osmeña sounded very confident in the interview he had with a Manila-based radio station, owning up the destruction without hesitation and explaining why he did it.
There was no remorse but defiance. “Nabuwisit na rin ako,” he said in reference to the refusal of the City Council, headed by Labella, to approve his request for P2 million funding of the mayor’s office. “I decided to remove everything so he will know what it feels like.”
I have been closely following the newspaper reports on the controversy since it broke out but found some details lacking. Osmeña’s interview helped fill in some of the holes.
The building was completed in 2000, he said. When he was elected mayor in 2001, the 8th floor was bare: no partitions, no ceilings, no CR. Some of his friends helped him fix the floor because the City Government did not have money. After the renovation, he “moved in” and held office there until 2010 when he was elected congressman.
His successor, Michael Rama, chose not to use the 8th floor office. Instead, Rama had a new office built on the ground floor, costing the city P9 million.
When he was again elected mayor in 2016 over Rama, Osmeña decided to occupy his old office on the 8th floor and asked the City Council to appropriate P2 million to renovate it. The Council, however, rejected his request. Politics, he said. The Council was at that time headed by Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella as presiding officer and was dominated by the opposition Barug Team Rama.
Osmeña again sought the help of his friends, including contractors and suppliers to help him spend for the renovation.
He spent P1 million of his money; the rest was outsourced. He also brought in the furniture owned by his family in Beverly Hills, California.
From Osmeña’s own narration, it is evident that he renovated his office on the 8th floor twice: in 2001 and in 2016. In both instances, he had help from his friends, including, at least in 2016, contractors and suppliers. Osmeña did not remove his improvements when his term ended in 2010 even if the city did not spend for them. This was probably because his successor, Rama, was handpicked by him.
Osmeña did not get to choose his successor in 2019. On the contrary, he was beaten by him. Suddenly, the personal grudge that he harbored since 2016 broke loose and so he hired people to remove everything from his office, including those that he had left untouched from 2010 to 2016, making sure that after they were done, the old mayor’s office was bare again: no partitions, no ceilings no CR.
Hell knows no fury like a politician spurned.