CEBU City Acting Mayor Michael Rama and City Councilor Donaldo “Dondon” Hontiveros assumed their posts as mayor and vice mayor, respectively, on Saturday morning, Nov. 20, 2021, a day after Mayor Edgardo Labella died.

Court of Appeals (CA) Cebu Associate Justice Gabriel Ingles administered Rama’s oath of office.

Rama then administered the oath of Hontiveros as vice mayor.

In a press conference, Rama explained that he and Hontiveros had to be installed as mayor and vice mayor immediately to prevent a “hiatus” in the City Government’s delivery of services.

“This is not the way I would wish to become a regular mayor. I just came from where my partner was being laid and talked with him with the city administrator Jun Casas before coming here. Telling him, ‘Edgardo, this is not the way I wish to take the reins of the city government,’” Rama said, recalling his visit to Labella’s wake on Friday, Nov. 19.

Labella died past 3 a.m. on Friday due to septic shock secondary to pneumonia. He was 70.

“It is very clear when death comes, succession follows. Otherwise, there will be a hiatus,” Rama added.

Section 44 of the Local Government Code states that if a permanent vacancy occurs in the office of the governor or mayor, the vice governor or vice mayor concerned shall become the governor or mayor. If a permanent vacancy occurs in the offices of the governor, vice governor, mayor, or vice mayor, the highest ranking sanggunian member or, in case of his permanent inability, the second highest ranking sanggunian member, shall become the governor, vice governor, mayor or vice mayor, as the case may be.

Now that he is the mayor, Rama said he wants to focus on continuing Labella’s plans and ensuring that City Hall’s services are unhampered.

In a separate interview after taking his oath, Hontiveros vowed to support Labella’s programs even though he has only six months left before the next election.

The simple oath-taking ceremony inside the mayor’s office was attended by the officials’ families.

Rama’s wife Malou, his sons Mikel and MJ, his brothers and his nephew, Cebu City Councilor Edu Rama, witnessed his oath-taking.

Hontiveros’ family was also present when he took his oath of office.

Meanwhile, Rama announced that the City Government will be holding a three-day wake for Labella in City Hall.

Labella’s remains will be transferred from the Cosmopolitan Funeral Homes in Barangay Lahug to City Hall on Wednesday, Nov. 24, to allow City Hall employees to pay their last respects until Friday, Nov. 26.

Labella will be laid to rest at the Golden Haven Memorial Park in Cebu City, according to his family.