CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama has “urgently requested” the Office of the Ombudsman to give an update on the criminal complaint he filed against former mayor and south district congressman Tomas Osmeña.
The case involved the former mayor’s alleged use of two vehicles that were donated by a lessee of the South Road Properties (SRP).
The mayor said he has recently obtained information that the findings of the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas were completed as early as December 2013.
“The said case appears to have been transmitted to your honorable office for approval. Thus, this office humbly requests your assistance in obtaining a report on the current status of the aforementioned case,” said Rama in a one-page letter to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.
The mayor said that an update from Ombudsman Morales would help inform the city’s constituents.
“(It) will likewise serve as a deterrent among the public officials that no wrongdoing shall be overlooked by the City Government. Hence, our urgent request for your assistance on the matter,” Rama wrote.
In a news conference at City Hall yesterday, Rama said he wants to know what happened to the case because his rivals are busy looking for faults in his administration.
“That, when they have also committed faults. Their running after me, for me, is witch-hunting. They are going into forum-shopping. We cannot just allow them to continue doing that, grandstanding and, much less, destroying. And that is very much, as far as I am concerned, not only destructing; it is an obstruction,” he said.
Sought for comment about the mayor’s move, former congressman Osmeña said that Rama is only politicking. He added the mayor doesn’t have proof that the two vehicles had been donated to the City.
“There are no papers. Simple kaayo. It was never transferred to the City’s name. If they say the cars belong to the City, then they have to show evidence of ownership,” he said.
That would include a deed of donation approved by the City Council.
Osmeña then said that Rama can check the records of the council if there was a deed of donation or the Land Transportation Office to see if the vehicles have been registered in the City’s name.
Rama filed a case against Osmeña in 2012 for allegedly taking for his personal use two Dodge Chargers, which looked like police cars, which Bigfoot Entertainment chairman Michael Gleissner donated in 2009.
Gleissner was the first to invest in the SRP in 2007, when Osmeña was still city mayor, by leasing a 20-hectare lot.
Initially, Councilor Margarita Osmeña had said the vehicles were given by Gleissner to her husband Tomas, and not to the City Government.
But Tomas later clarified he declined to accept the vehicles, which he said were bought by his sister Maria Victoria “Minnie” Osmeña and her son Paulo Osmeña Jacinto.
As to the case he filed, Rama had said that Tomas, among other possible offenses, violated Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
It prohibits public officers from soliciting or accepting gifts, for themselves or for another, in connection with any contract or transaction between the government and any other party, wherein the public officer in his official capacity has to intervene under the law.
The same law prohibits private individuals “having family or close personal relation with any public official to exploit such relation by directly or indirectly requesting or receiving any gift from any person having some business, transaction, application, request or contract with the government, in which such public official has to intervene.”
Also yesterday, right after the City’s flag ceremony, Rama told City Hall employees who support the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) to resign or transfer offices.
“If they want to demolish me, I probably have to demolish them first,” said the mayor. He and Osmeña were political allies for at least six terms, before they ran against each other in 2013. (Rama first ran for mayor in 2010; in that same year, Osmeña won his first term as south district congressman.)
According to Rama, City Hall employees who let political divisions affect their work are being destructive and must be transferred to where they can be more effective public servants.
A public office does not need someone who keeps on finding faults with the administration, when “they themselves have already committed mistakes,” he said.
“The heat is on,” Rama said. (With Rolando Balondo Jr., NSU AB Comm. Intern)