CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama has prepared a speech that will bare his plans for the city in the next seven months, and he will read it during the flag raising ceremony before City Hall employees Monday, Nov. 22, 2021.

Rama has officially become a regular mayor after he took oath of office on Saturday, Nov. 20, and he will be serving the remaining 223 days of the term of mayor Edgardo Labella, who succumbed to a lingering illness last Nov. 19. Taking his place as vice mayor is Donaldo “Dondon” Hontiveros.

Rama refused to divulge the contents of his speech during an interview with SunStar Cebu on Sunday, Nov. 21. He also refused to answer if there will be changes at the City Hall.

“I will not be doing a telepathic matter on this particular concern. I’m still checking with my staff about the content of my message,” he said.

Rama, however, had said in the first week of November that he did not consider a revamp of the department heads, and he had no plans of conducting loyalty checks among City Hall officials and employees.

That was when he was acting mayor and granted with full powers of a mayor to fire and hire officials after mayor Labella’s last medical leave went beyond 30 days prescribed by the Local Government Code.

Now that he is full-time mayor, the possibility of change at the City Hall could be imminent.

When asked about the position of City Administrator Floro Casas Jr., an appointee of Labella, the Mayor did not divulge that there will be a changing of the guard. In cities and municipalities, the administrator is often described as “little mayor” as the official is responsible for the day-to-day operations of government, including supervision of the department heads.

Entrepreneur’s request

The micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Cebu City are hoping that Rama will continue the programs for the business sector of the late mayor Labella.

Filipino Cebuano Business Club (FilCeb) chairman Rey Calooy told SunStar Cebu that Labella started the Barangay-Based Entrepreneurial Mentoring Program (BBEMP) together with the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI).

“Whatever directions Mayor Labella had undertaken in our sector where he made many partnerships like the BBEMP with the CCCI and FilCeb, we hoped Mayor Rama would continue to support in order to promote the program,” he said.

The BBEMP is an economic stimulus program that aims to capacitate and build confidence of MSMEs to pivot, reboot and reformat their business models to recover and build back better from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Calooy described the BBEMP as inclusive because it helps grassroots entrepreneurs in the barangays on how they can push their businesses to the highest potential amid the pandemic.

He said the program also reached entrepreneurs in the mountain barangays. The shifting market behavior towards the countryside benefited many MSMEs, Calooy added. (IRT, JOB)