CEBU City Mayor Mike Rama has barely warmed his seat but the City Council is already giving him a bumpy ride. Rama’s proposed P221-million supplemental budget was pitilessly cut in Tuesday’s session.
The P15 million Rama intended to use in buying a dredger was removed. The P30 million to be spent for fuel and lubricants and the P20 million appropriated for the purchase of garbage trucks were cut by P4 million each.
The cuts in Rama’s proposed supplemental budget were supposedly because the city has some statutory obligations, whatever that is.
The P2-million budget for the establishment of a brass band and chorale group was almost taken out. Some councilors said the city has better things to do with the money. It was cut by half.
Councilor Margot Osmeña, the former mayor’s wife, was quoted as saying, “this is a great project but I would think that we have better things to do.” It also duplicates the work of the Arts Council of Cebu, she added.
The city council, when Mayor Mike was its presiding officer, earned the moniker of stamp pad of former mayor Tomas Osmeña, now congressman of Cebu City’s south district.
Whatever Tomas put in his executive budget, the City Council approved without a word. The city council now headed by Vice Mayor Joy Young is perhaps redeeming itself from that bad mark.
Mayor Rama questioning the propriety of the city council inserting a budget to pay for the purchased buses somehow exposed his ignorance. As former presiding officer of the city council, he should know whether the insertion is legal or not.
As mayor, Rama can veto the inserted appropriation if he dislikes it. The term “budget insertion” became notorious when Sen. Manny Villar inserted a P200-million budget for the C-5 extension road project that the other senators claimed was a “double entry.”
But former budget secretary Rolando Andaya said “budget insertion” is not a crime.
I can feel the frustration in Mayor Mike now. He may have realized at this point that while he has achieved his dream of becoming chief executive of a premiere city, he is merely a symbolic mayor.
I hate to say this to a friend and fellow lawyer. But the way things are shaping up this early, Mayor Mike can be isolated by the city councilors, who are allies or cronies of Congressman Tomas.
While Rama can claim that he is the new boss of all the bosses in City Hall (unlike PNoy who referred instead to the people as, “boss ko kayo”), he has to contend with Osmeña aside, of course, from our Lord.
Mayor Mike asking his girlfriend Joy to assist him and his appointing Mariquita S. Yeung, a friend and political ally of Gov. Gwen Garcia, as consultant are matters that Osmeña criticized.
The mayor only has Councilor Edu Rama, a cousin, supporting him in the council. But what is one against the majority if Mayor Mike does not toe the line laid down by Congressman Tomas?
Rama might end up feeling lonely once he sits in his soon-to-be refurbished office and feels almost like a lame duck. He should remember that the road to success is not laden with roses.
There are talks that Osmeña will return to City Hall in 2013 if Mayor Mike will do things contrary to what they have agreed.