Friday, September 24, 2021

Bzzzzz: Mike Rama says City Council 'must finish what we began': garbage, CCMC, Covid budget liquidation, vaccines, Megawide

Photo from Cebu City Vice Mayor's Office's Facebook page

WE DIDN’T know...

... NOT until someone sent us a clip of a March 11, 2021 story in Rappler titled: Who are the top House spenders in 2019?

First of the series of lists was of House members reelected in the 2019 election and the spending covered January to December of that year.

And who from Cebu who is in it? Eliminate the nine congressmen and two congresswomen from Cebu who are elected by congressional districts. And you're left with the party-list representative who has already served five consecutive terms and will serve one more term if his party gets enough votes in 2022.

Of course, he is Cebuano Representative Raymond Democrito Mendoza of the Trade Union Congress Party. He is ranked No. 8 in the COA report's bracket with P30,513,975.50.

He and eight others are in good company, which includes Speaker Lord Allan Velasco.


Nobody told Mike

The acting mayor's complaint when Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella went on official medical leave starting Wednesday, July 14: "Nobody communicated with me," Vice Mayor Mike Rama told the City Council when his authority to continue presiding was gently questioned: "When I arrived in my office, there was no formal designation." In short, he was not officially told.

Mayor Edlab's symptom before admission to the hospital: "A persistent cough." When symptoms persist, you consult a doctor, not the vice mayor. That's a stretch.


Carpenters' 'We've only just begun'

Cebu City Vice Mayor Michael Rama, speaking as a member of the City Council, gave one message to his colleagues before he assumed Wednesday, July 14, as acting mayor: "Let's finish what we began."

In his privileged speech, a mix of Cebuano-Bisaya and English, at the Sanggunian's regular session, Mike Rama started by giving the title of his speech, "Finish What We Began," and its first line, which he lifted from the 1970 Carpenters song, "We've only just begun..."

Just begun what? The song says "just begun to live." What VM Rama has in mind is its unfinished business: to investigate ("seriously") a number of City Hall contracts and projects, including:

[1] GARBAGE CONTRACT with Docast Construction. He had his letter to the firm's manager and owner read before the City Council which in effect said, Give direct answers, don't evade the issues of the contractor not meeting obligations under the contract and possibly enriching itself at the expense of the city.

[2] CCMC BUILDING. He would like to see the new building of Cebu City Medical Center completed before May 2022, the next election, saying the people, (the voters, he must mean) want that. He expressed dismay over the cancellation of the bidding for phase 4 ("Unsaon paghuman nga gikansel man?")

[3] LIQUIDATION OF COVID EXPENSES. This is big money, P2.2 billion, he said, which the City Council budgeted in lump tranches. Don't send it to COA, he said, they (the people) asked us here. Changing tack, he then said, in effect, Let COA do their thing, we do ours.

[4] VACCINES. Supply of vaccines from DOH has been erratic. They must ask Manila, he said, to make the supply stable and steady. The number of vaccinated people so far is a tiny fraction of what VM Rama early announced as Cebu City's goal: 70 per cent of its population.

[5] CARBON MARKET PROJECT, which Rama said "is the last but not the least." He will continue, he said, to secure the curative measures that the joint venture of the City with Megawide needs. Earlier though, Megawide made it clear the contract is done and the developer has been complying with the terms of the contract.

Plunder, fried in own lard

In typical Mike Rama prose, the vice mayor said he would not wish to deal with the issue of "plunder" and would not like to see the City fried in its own lard ("giluto sa atong kaugalingong mantika").

He berated the garbage contractor Docast for not speaking directly and plainly in its answer to his first show-cause letter of June 28. Yet the vice mayor cannot say outright that some public officials might be charged with plunder for irregular projects or anomalous spending and some private persons could be fleecing money from City Hall.


P.S. Sanggunian also began...

... AND has not finished and Mike failed to talk about them:

[6 & 7] FLOOD, TRAFFIC. The perennial flood and traffic problem, and not just at the south district, his and a few other active councilors' favorite district;

[8] ELECTRICITY COST. The Veco rates increase, which earlier, along with business groups and some advocates, the Sanggunian raised to as far as the Energy Regulatory Board. No word has been said since, with the ERB and the power company also choosing not to speak out publicly about the problem.


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