CEBU City’s opposition cautioned voters against electing candidates linked to narco-politics or those reported to be tolerating drug lords, saying this could lead to the collapse of peace and order in the city.

Lawyer Raymond Alvin Garcia attacked Vice Mayor Michael Rama, the administration mayoral candidate, during the Kugi Uswag Sugbo’s (Kusug) press conference yesterday, the first day of the local campaign period.

He reminded the public that Rama was dragged into a controversial raid on video carrera operations beside a drug lord’s house in Barangay Sambag 2 last year.

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“There are some politicians who are tolerating drug lords. I will not go too far and will just cite the opponent of my father. The vice mayor (Rama) was called a drug lord protector by the mayor himself. The so-called drug lord who is running for councilor is supporting the candidacy of the vice mayor. If people support these candidates, peace and order problems in our city will worsen. That is why we should elect people without connections to alleged drug lords,” said Raymond.

His father, former mayor Alvin Garcia, will face Rama in the May 10 elections.

If elected, Alvin and their councilor and congressional candidates vowed to improve the delivery of basic services, guard transparency and check-and-balance in the City Council and end the leadership marked by “arrogance and vindictiveness.”

Alvin said they are aiming for a straight win.

This campaign period, they said they will look into the expenses of the City on the doleouts given to senior citizens, graduates and other sectors to check if it is legal. “If not, then we will have to take legal remedies,” Alvin said.

They also appealed to the city’s residents not to sell their votes to the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) bets, who they said are on a buying spree using the taxpayers’ money, to the detriment of the delivery of basic services.

When sought for comment, Rama said he had already answered the allegations the first time they were raised, and did not find the need to defend himself.

He said that as far as he knows, drug lords are not among his supporters. Rama also said he does not need anyone to endorse his candidacy.

“That was already answered. Do I look like a drug lord? Do I look like a drug addict? Will it make me a drug lord if I’m playing basketball? Will it make me a drug lord if I am only following the rule of law?” the vice mayor asked.

In March last year, Mayor Tomas Osmeña accused Rama of intervening in a raid and scolding a police official who led operatives in a video carrera operation in Sambag 2 in November 2008.

Policemen were about to conduct a raid on a house where a video carrera was operating, but failed to proceed when somebody from the house next door fired shots at their vehicle. The house belonged to an alleged drug lord, the mayor had said.

The mayor hinted that time that Rama was a protector of shabu dealers, which the latter denied, saying he was only making sure that the policemen followed the rules in conducting a raid, after receiving information that they entered houses that were not the subject of the search warrant.

With the start of the official campaign period for local offices yesterday, the administration party BOPK said they will be focusing on their campaign and will not be disturbed by the issues raised by their rivals.

Focus

“As far as I am concerned, we have to proceed as one party, never be disturbed by whatever the discourses that will come in from the other side or which side. We will all be asking our supporters, the people, and the candidates not to lose focus. Just bring the best in you and the platform that you are ready to serve,” Rama said.

Asked why they chose to kick off their campaign in low-key activities, Osmeña said it’s because they already have nothing to do.

Osmeña said they have tested the mobility of BOPK during the rally of the Liberal Party.

“That was our test. We just want to see if we can mobilize. So we were organized and we are happy with that,” Osmeña said.

BOPK and Kusug held a mass at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral at 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., respectively. The candidates and their supporters were present.

Meanwhile, Msgr. Roberto “Boy” Alesna, who officiated the mass, reminded the candidates that the power given to them, if elected into office, is to serve the people.

“The Gospel says that authority and power are given for service. It is a divine trust, again, given for service and not given for political advertisement. So that the person in authority can help others grow in dignity and humility,” Alesna said.

Fr. Bryan Brigoli, for his part, reminded Kusug candidates to serve with pure hearts and pure intentions so that their endeavors will succeed.

In his homily, Brigoli reminded the people to serve not by words but by deeds.

After the mass, the BOPK proceeded to the City Hall’s Legislative Building for their handshaking activity.

100 days

In Kusug’s press conference following the mass, Alvin said that if elected, he will spend his first 100 days in office addressing the problems of the South Road Properties (SRP).

If the City has to sell a portion or all of the remaining SRP lots to pay off its foreign loans, he said he will let the constituents negotiate on the terms and conditions of the sale. Alvin said he will not be like the mayor who calls the shots where the SRP is concerned.

He also promised to allocate more funds for the City Health Department so they can eliminate dengue in the city.

For her part, congressional candidate for the north district and Lahug Barangay Captain Mary Ann de los Santos called on the city’s voters not to be blinded by the BOPK’s doleouts.

“Do not be shortsighted because the small amount you will get is not worth the misery that you will pay for in the next three years. Do not be blinded by political patronage and money, the favors and the gifts,” she said. (LCR/PDF)