SO “HAS-BEEN” mayor Tomas Osmeña has fired back. He filed criminal and administrative charges before the Office of the Visayas Ombudsman against Mayor Edgardo Labella, City Attorney Rey Gealon and City Administrator Floro Casas Jr. for violating the anti-graft law, usurpation of function of the Revised Penal Code and grave misconduct with conduct unbecoming of public officials.
The cases stemmed from the refusal of the respondents to his offer to restore his former office, which he vandalized before he stepped down last June 30, 2019 after his defeat to Labella in the May elections. He said he wanted to restore the office on the eighth floor of the annex building back to its original condition when he took it over from former mayor Michael Rama in 2016, but the respondents, especially Gealon and Casas, blocked him.
Two days before he stepped down, some 20 persons from Dakay Construction, took everything in his office, including the tiles, ceiling, electrical wiring, lavatory and even the toilet bowl. He left the office practically empty.
When asked by the local and Manila-based media why he did it, Osmeña said he just wanted Labella to feel what he felt when the City Council in 2016, which was then dominated by Labella’s allies, denied his request for funding to renovate his office. He claimed he spent his own money for the renovation of his office with the help of some friends. All the items there were his personal belongings. He even told a Manila-based radio station, “Wala lang. Gusto ko lang. (No reason. I just wanted to do it.)” He kept on elaborating on what Labella’s camp did to his supporters in the mountain barangays where the houses of barangay captains who were his allies were strafed by armed men.
“It is very unusual for an outgoing mayor to strip his office, but it is equally rare for the City Council to reject my request to fix the mayor’s office. So I spent my personal money with some friends so I can have a functional office.I did that for Cebu, not for the next guy,” Osmeña told the Rappler in a July 24, 2019 interview.
Because of what he did, Osmeña is facing various charges, including malicious mischief, before the Ombudsman. He was also being investigated by the Department of the Interior and Local Government. Maybe feeling the backlash by the negative public opinion, Osmeña, upon his return from a vacation in New Zealand, wrote to Labella last July 18 and offered to restore his office back to its state in 2016. But Gealon and Casas denied the request, saying “there is already a pending case and any work to be undertaken is tantamount to ‘obstruction of justice.’”
Maybe Osmeña has not gotten over the debacle in the last election. What he is doing is just a “face-saving measure” to lessen the impact of what he has done, or maybe it’s for publicity purposes so he can be in the limelight again because he has nothing to do now.
This is the same strategy he did after his defeat to Rama in the 2013 election. He filed charges against his nemesis like Rama and former city treasurer Diwa Cuevas, including libel cases against me, just to be in the limelight again. If Tomas has no more plans to join politics again as announced by his wife Margot, he should keep quiet and live a peaceful life. Cebu is better without him in the political scene. Mas malinawon ang Cebu kon wala ka, ‘Mas. Pahuway na uy.