CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama sought an end to the issue on the restrictions he imposed on department heads in dealing with the media, saying he already clarified this with them.

Rama told a news conference yesterday there is nothing else to discuss because he already talked to all department heads about his policy on granting media interviews.

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal said that while he respects the policies of Rama, he has yet to understand the mayor’s alleged gag order.

“I don’t want to say anything, but I don’t understand what he meant by it. What does he mean by gag?” Vidal said.

In a TV Patrol Central Visayas report yesterday, Vidal said lets officials in the Archbishop’s Palace speak for themselves.

“What I practice is that when people responsible are given such a thing, I let them speak for themselves,” said Vidal, who was at the Carmelites Monastery yesterday morning to celebrate a pontifical mass for the fiesta of Lady of Mt. Carmel.

Rama reiterated there is no gag order, but the heads of offices will have to be careful when giving comments about certain issues and to make sure it does not put the City Government in a bad light.

If they have to make any statement, he also asked them to course it through the public information officer, as much as possible.

“Naklaro na tanan. Wala na ko’y issue ana gawas na lang ug i-issue gyud (Everything is settled unless someone wants to make an issue out of it),” Rama said.

In an interview over radio dyAB yesterday morning, Rama admitted his restrictions may have forced department heads to stop talking to reporters.

Rep. Tomas Osmeña (Cebu City, south district) said whatever comes out of Rama’s policy in handling the press, he just wants to make it clear “I did not teach him that.”

Imposed

Osmeña pointed out he never imposed any restriction on department heads during his 15 years as mayor.

Although he once banned reporters of Sun.Star Cebu from his press conferences, he said it could not be likened to Rama’s restrictions on department heads because he did not suppress transparency.

For almost two months in 2001, Osmeña did not allow Sun.Star reporters to cover his press conference.

He said all the other newspapers, TV and radio stations were allowed to cover, so transparency was not compromised.

“I blocked off one newspaper but I don’t block the media because that means blocking transparency. It’s not the same thing. Blocking off one reporter is not blocking the media.

On this gag order, my observation is that I cannot do this.

This is not the style of BOPK, this is not my style. I don’t know where he learned that but definitely, he did not learn it from me,” the former mayor said.

Osmeña said Rama’s restrictions will only give department heads and employees facing allegations of corruption or dishonesty an excuse not to answer media inquries.

Rama said he decided to call dyAB news anchor Leo Lastimosa when the latter was discussing the restriction on department heads during his radio program yesterday, to react to comments that keeping the media from directly interviewing city officials is unconstitutional.

“Dili na man hinoon ko kahibaw (How can I not know) what is constitutional and what is unconstitutional? I told Leo that I am a lawyer and have been practicing as a lawyer,” he told reporters.

“I have been very clear about it. I already told the department heads na og gusto gyud ninyo moestorya (if you want to give an interview), just remember that in a corporate structure, and the City Government is a public corporation, there is always

responsibility and accountability. As for transparency, we don’t have to argue about it, but there are ways to promote transparency,” Rama said.