CEBU City Vice Mayor Michael Rama appears to be in a precarious situation once more, after he irked Mayor Tomas Osmeña with reported statements that he is willing to cooperate with the governor if it is necessary to make Cebu better.

Rama’s statement that he is willing to work with Gov. Gwen Garcia “for the good of Cebu” also caused worry among urban poor families who were previously threatened by Capitol with eviction from Province-owned properties in the city.

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Occupants of Capitol-owned lots convened last night and said they are now reassessing their commitment to support Rama’s mayoral bid, fearing that they would lose their homes if he is elected city mayor.

Aside from jeopardizing the interest of some 6,000 urban poor families, Osmeña said he was hurt by Rama’s statements because he took it to mean that the vice mayor abandoned their ally, gubernatorial candidate Hilario “Junjun” Davide III.

Rama was quick to defend himself, saying Osmeña has nothing to worry about because his statements during a roundtable interview with another newspaper last Tuesday were taken out of context.

“I’m getting chills down my spine... I’m very apprehensive because the way I read it, ‘for the good of Cebu,’ he will abandon the urban poor. Has the urban poor become

expendable under the motherhood statement ‘for the good of Cebu?’ These people have nowhere to go,” the mayor said.

In his news conference yesterday, Osmeña reminded Rama that he was the one who started the conflict between the City and the Province, yet he says that he does not have a personal quarrel with Garcia.

While he worked hard on a land swap agreement to ensure the security of tenure of the urban poor occupants, Rama ruined it by insulting the Province, he said.

“How short is his memory? Has he forgotten already that he started it? I had no conflict with the governor until he opened his mouth. I worked very strongly for the land swap, to allow the people to stay there. And then he goes up on stage, he steps down as presiding officer to deliver a speech, ‘unsa man ni dawat-limpyo?’ Mao kana’y sugod sa away and then after that he leaves the fight between me and the governor,” an irate mayor said.

Out

Despite his reservations, the mayor said he will still give Rama a chance to become the next mayor, saying he deserves it after serving the city as three-term councilor and vice mayor.

When asked what will happen to Rama as member of the administration party if he remains firm in his stand in working with the governor if elected, Osmeña said it is up to the people to decide.

“I’m out by June 30. If you like that to happen, fine, endorse it... It’s up to the people, why should it be up to me? I think he deserves to be given the chance to serve because he was vice mayor for three terms. So, no matter all my reservations, he deserves the chance, but I have serious questions on whether he will do well,” he added.

Osmeña said he feels bad about what Rama told the newspaper because he abandoned Davide by making “thoughtless and uncalled for” statements like that.

“It’s like saying ‘never mind, you vote for Gwen, never mind if you don’t vote for Junjun because I can get along with Gwen’.

That’s basically what I read. Of course he said, as a consuelo de bobo, I hope Junjun wins. Matay. Why did he have to make a statement like that, what is he trying to prove? Uncalled for.

Junjun Davide is one of us,” the mayor continued.

In a separate news conference, Rama clarified his statements in the interview, saying significant portions of it were omitted.

He also assured the mayor that he stands by Davide, whose gubernatorial bid he is fully supporting, and that he will remain loyal to Cebu City, including its urban poor.

“He (mayor) should not be receiving it (like that). I know better than anyone when it comes to the political stand that I am making because I have been around for 18 years and I know I exist to serve... He should not be apprehensive, I know what I am doing. He should not be worried,” Rama said.

Position

In a separate interview, Davide said he hopes Rama has not forgotten the welfare of over 5,000 families living in Province-owned lots in the city.

“I know that the objective of the Provincial Government is to recover the lots to the prejudice of the occupants. That is anti-poor,” said Davide, who is the Liberal Party’s candidate for Cebu governor.

“My position is to protect them. I have sympathies for the poor neglected by the province as well as the poor in the city, who were my former constituents and are in danger of being evicted,” Davide said.

Rama said there were many other statements that followed the comments that were published, but some of the things he said did not see print.

“Along the way ang storya was will there be reconciliation just in case? What is there to reconcile when first and foremost wala man ko nangita’g away... If and when we’re talking about what is good for Cebu, I always fight for Cebu, I fight for the City.

What was being said is if it is for Cebu, Mike will always be there for Cebu that means including Cebu City. Who am I to be against if it will be good for Cebu? It’s not for the governor, it’s for Cebu,” he explained.

Opposition leaders were also quick to pounce on the issue, saying that Rama’s statement is an indication that he is starting to turn his back on the mayor.

Cracks

Businessman Jonathan Guardo and former mayor Alvin Garcia said the cracks in the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) are starting to show as the campaign period approaches.

“The fact that he is ready to cooperate with Gov. Garcia, Osmeña’s arch enemy, shows that there is a crack within the BOPK leadership. The relationship between Rama and Osmeña has reportedly been getting cold as the local campaign period started to heat up,” Guardo said.

The issue also worried urban poor families occupying Province-owned lots in the city, who fear that Capitol may succeed in evicting them if Rama meant what he said.

“I hope VM Rama was misquoted or misunderstood. Otherwise, it is a betrayal and is very dangerous for the 6,000 urban poor families that the Province is threatening to evict. I hope he will clarify. We cannot take this very serious issue sitting down,” said urban poor leader and City Administrator Francisco Fernandez.

Reassurance

Leaders of the different homeowners’ associations that occupy Capitol properties met with Fernandez last night to seek clarification on the status of the City’s support for them, following Rama’s statements.

They agreed to meet with Rama today to ask him to clarify whether or not he meant what he said, as they also reassess their support for him.

“We committed to support him but the people are now hesitant to support his candidacy kay dili na sad klaro ug mutabang ba gyud siya namo. Siya baya to ang rason na wala nadayon ang land swap and hangtod karon wala na nakalimtan sa mga tawo (He’s the reason for the failed land swap. We haven’t forgotten that),” said Hope Minor, a community organizer of Pagtambayayong Foundation Inc.