Former allies square off for mayorship

AFTER May 13, 2013, either Rep. Tomas Osmeña (Cebu City, south district) or Mayor Michael Rama will be a first-time political loser.

They are former allies who became enemies soon after Rama’s first term as mayor began in 2010. Rama has been serving Cebu City for over 20 years without any interruption.

He started as city councilor, finishing three terms, and then was elected as Osmeña’s vice mayor, again for three terms.

Osmeña first ran and won as mayor in 1989, but gave way to an ally, former mayor Alvin Garcia, in 1995 after serving two terms. Osmeña then barred Garcia from a third term when he won the mayoral contest in 2001.

He finished three terms and ran for a seat in Congress in 2010, while Rama ran for mayor. That was a first for them both, too.

But before 2010 ended, Osmeña started becoming publicly critical of Rama. In turn, Rama, barely a year after taking his oath as mayor, announced his decision to leave Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK).

From allies to enemies, they will face off on May 13. Here, cobbled together from separate interviews, are their views and ideas.

Tomas R. Osmeña: (Instead of answering the question, the congressman handed Sun.Star Cebu a seven-page memorandum of the BOPK principles. This is an excerpt.)

The orientation of BOPK is not centered on doctrine as in the Ten Commandments. It is based more on a direction or style or even attitude of our City Government. It is not rigid as in religion. On the contrary, it is evolutionary in nature, where there should be continuous fine-tuning as our focus becomes clearer.

When we formed BOPK in 1987, our program of government could be summed up in eight points: jobs; youth; peace and order; financial efficiency; barangay; infrastructure; good government; and business development.

BOPK believes in local autonomy. Not just the constitutional mandate of having a strong local government but we also believe that autonomy also includes the sound management practice of the delegation of authority.

BOPK has a management philosophy that there is always a better way of doing things... BOPK also believes that crafting the solution is only worth 20 percent; implementation scores 80 percent.

BOPK may make some political considerations in hiring but there should be no political considerations in judging performance on the job. Also, BOPK does not believe in giving a “second chance” in cases of graft and corruption, no matter how minor.

BOPK will serve everyone in the City whether they can vote for us or not. The street children get the highest priority. Investors also get special treatment because they create jobs.

BOPK does not concentrate on short-term problems.

Michael L. Rama: I will continue to bring in the vision that I have already highlighted. The vision is a simple, sustainable city whereby, number one, we will need real Private-Public Partnership under the corporate social responsibility dimension.

Number two, bringing all constituency in a state of healthy well-being. Number three, making people economically productive. Number four, we wish the constituents of the City of Cebu will be active, dynamic and performing, and then bringing City Hall at your doorstep under the platform: SEE D BIG 3Ps (social services, environment, education, development, business, infrastructure, governance, people, public affairs, peace and order) under the advocacy of Barangayan, Bayanihan, Boluntarismo.

And with the so-called framework of “making SRP (South Road Properties) pretty, the coast beautiful, downtown revitalized, uptown progressive, upland balanced between development and environment.

With the guiding principle of removing the word ownership because it is considered I, I, I... I don’t want to abuse. I want “A” leadership. In Team Rama, we wish to have a leadership of servanthood, stewardship, custodianship and partnership with some governing policy that we bring everybody to be aware…

Together we can make things happen under the spider-web approach and we can always say, “Be in Cebu City” where life is worth living.

The South Road Properties is the biggest infrastructure undertaking of the City Government. If elected, what do you plan to do in the first 100 days as far as SRP is concerned?

TRO: The first thing I’m going to do is do some housecleaning. The finances are in a big mess. They say we lost three years with Mike Rama, but I say we lost four because to undo the damage he has done will take another year. He has depleted all the funds.

Just imagine, for the second half of the year there’s nothing left. And he squeezed out everything that he can get, he realigned most of the funds.

MLR: Number one, we should be able to materialize clearly the master plan of SRP because right now, the only plan is in the head of that guy from Guadalupe. (Note: Osmeña is a registered voter of Guadalupe.)

Number two, I will definitely institutionalize an office--whether it is a quasi-corporation or not, it must be a professionally run office. We would like to focus on what is best for the SRP. Clearly, those who will deal with marketing and everything we talked about in terms of viability of SRP because as I told you, the mayor is not alien to its beginning.

How many people have been beneficiaries because originally it was 80,000 plus? So, we must be fast-tracking because it has been delayed and billions (worth) of services (were) deprived (for) the people in the mainland. It is not there for one person, it stands there for everybody to enjoy.

We can always bring as part of our vision the private-public partnership and with that as a framework, we can bring in (employment) because as they say, more heads are better than one.

What do you think is the defining issue this election?

TRO: When you talk about the defining issue, you’re trying to make it appear that there is just one issue that will make people decide. For some people it is a balance.

When you talk about defining issue, you’re talking about single-issue politics. In other words, I will vote for you because you hired my son. I don’t care about the rest. Or I will not vote for you because you fired my son. Don’t paint me in that corner because people should really make their decision based on everything. Mike Rama’s defining issue is that he should be the mayor because he can dance “Gangnam Style”.

So, I tell the urban poor there’s something they forgot, the future of their family.

What can we do about the future especially the urban poor? If you want the urban poor to prosper, it’s not enough you improve the economy because when you improve the economy, sometimes, only the rich will prosper. Special focus (is needed) to improve the economy of the urban poor. To improve the economy of the urban poor you need jobs, education, money but most of all, the ability to put the package together. To create jobs, you have to bring in business. Livelihood projects have a high mortality rate.

The more business, the more jobs so you have to bring, you have to bring in investors.

MLR: Track record. In less than three years as mayor, people say I have done wonders even with an obstructionist City Council.

What is your edge over your opponent?

TRO: Mike Rama cannot bring in investors, he has not brought in a single investor.

I just want to remind people that in my first year as mayor, together with (former governor) Lito (Osmeña, governor of Cebu from 1988 to 1992) we brought in the biggest, most reputable and richest investor you can find in the Philippines: Ayala.

Then we brought in so many, within the period of two years, Cebu had Ceboom, a reputation known internationally. Unfortunately, we got hit by (Typhoon) Ruping and we had to get back to zero. First thing we needed to do was recover. And that’s when I thought of the SRP. It took a long time, never mind, but we had to start somewhere.

MLR: I don’t think I have to go down to the health because I can run, I can play basketball, I can sing, I can dance, I am an athletic person, let the matter on talent be the issue.

When the elections are over, is there a possibility your friendship will be revived?

TRO: I don’t deal with traitors. I’m very trustworthy, I gave him a chance but once people show me they cannot be trusted, why should I even worry about it? Maybe, but he has to be at the back of the line.

MLR: I don’t have to think about it, we don’t even know what’s going to happen in the days to come.
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