WHAT else is new? “Has-been” mayor Tomas Osmeña is set to file today a graft and corruption case against Vice Mayor Michael Rama and four other former Cebu City Hall officials before the Office of the Visayas Ombudsman in relation to the sale of a lot at the South Road Properties (SRP) during the incumbency of Rama as city mayor. This was announced by Osmeña’s legal counsel Amado Virgil Ligutan.
The four other respondents are former city administrator Lucelle Mercado, former city treasurer Diwa Cuevas, former city attorney and now City Treasurer Jerome Castillo and former city accountant Mark Rossel Salomon. The “has-been” mayor accused the respondents of violating Republic Act (RA) 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act; RA 6713, or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees; and grave misconduct in violation of RA 6770, or the Ombudsman Act of 1989.
The case stemmed from the sale of a lot at the SRP to the SM-Ayala consortium and Filinvest Land Inc. in 2015 when Rama was the mayor. Rama signed the deed of absolute sale in August 2015, two days after the Cebu City Council passed a resolution resolving “to defer further action on the sale of the lots at the SRP as far as the signing of the deed and payments from the winning bidders.”
Aside from the deed, Rama also signed a supplemental agreement on the same day.
The four other respondents were members of the Committee on Awards.
Ligutan said the SM-Ayala consortium and Rama knew what they were doing was illegal.
Well, I respect the legal move of Osmeña. He has a battery of good lawyers. But I can only ask: Why only now? Mahulog man ni sa among paboriting kanta ni Mike Rama nga “Bakit ngayon ka lang.” This issue has been there for the past three years. And Osmeña had been very powerful and influential during those years because he was the mayor. Why then did he not work on these cases?
Before he even assumed as mayor after winning in the last 2016 elections, his first order of the day was to rescind the contract on those sales. But until his term expired last May 2019 and after he lost in the 2019 election to now Mayor Edgardo Labella, he was not able to rescind the contract. He tried to divert the issue by running after the business subsidiaries of SM Prime Holdings like BDO Bank and SM Seaside to pressure SM to rescind the contract, but he failed.
And now he is resorting to legal action. What’s his agenda? Personal and political motives again? Just to scuttle the multi-billion projects of the consortium at the SRP? Just asking. The proposed construction of big projects in the area like the SMX convention center and hotels should have been initiated a long time ago if the “has-been” mayor did not make any move to scuttle the projects. It would have already generated employment among Cebuanos while the construction was under way. Osmeña has no love for the future of Cebu and the Cebuanos. He is only looking after his personal agenda.
Well, anybody can file charges against somebody based on fabricated charges. But I don’t think there was an anomaly or anything illegal in the transaction.
SM-Ayala and Filinvest are prestigious companies in real estate development. I don’t think they will involve their companies in anomalous transactions. It will only destroy the image of their companies. Mao nay nakadaot aning Tomas. Kung iyang transaksiyon, walay anomaliya. Apan kung lain anomaloso. Pahuway na lang, ‘Mas, uy. Mas maayo ang Cebu kon maghilum na lang ka hangtod-hangtod. Cebu is better without you.