SUSPENDED Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama yesterday apologized to those who were “bothered” or “affected” by a selfie he snapped during the closing mass of the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) last Sunday.

The mayor called for a press conference in Barangay Tinago, saying he wanted the public to know the circumstances behind the photo, which has spread on social media.

He also addressed speculations on those “Welcome to Binay country” streamers displayed on two roads leading to the mass venue and took up what he thought would be the effects of One Cebu’s declaration of support for Vice President Jejomar Binay’s presidential bid.

“I’m sorry if it (that selfie) disenchanted some, disturbed, confused and perhaps others are bewildered, much less affected. No intent to hurt them. No intent to even desecrate the whole historic event. But ato lang klarohon what are the real circumstances,” he said.

According to Rama, being part of the organizers of the IEC, he went around the area where the mass was held to check on the number of people who joined the event. The mass was conducted in a 26-hectare lot in the South Road Properties (SRP) where the San Pedro Calungsod templete stands.

Rama said he moved away from the templete after taking communion. While doing so, he climbed atop a platform and took a photo of the crowd using his phone.

“>o?Nisaka ko didto sa tumoy to take a picture to see what is really the situation because that will give us a better foresight on what ought to be done when exit will be forthcoming,” he said.

While he did that, he recalled, some people in front of him began taking picture. He said he heard someone suggest, “Mayor, selfie.”

Tua na man ko sa ibabaw so nag selfie na lang pod ko apil sila. Actually gusto sila paapil sa picture nga naa ko (I was already on the platform, so I took a selfie with them. They wanted to be in the same picture),” he added. This happened while other mass participants were still taking communion.

Rama pointed out he was not the only one taking photos during the IEC closing mass.

“Why should you blame people for taking a picture? That (event) is historic,” he said.

Cebu allies

In the same press conference, Rama welcomed One Cebu’s announcement of the party’s support for Vice President Jejomar Binay’s campaign for the presidency.

“I am the happiest political figure in UNA in Region 7 because with us together, we can be more concrete now that the whole UNA ally in Cebu has a structure,” the mayor said.

Then-governor Gwendolyn Garcia was one of UNA’s prospective candidates for the Senate in the 2013 elections. She eventually ran for and won the congressional seat in Cebu Province’s third district.

Her brother, lawyer Winston Garcia, announced last Monday that One Cebu has decided to support Binay because of all the candidates for the presidency, he has the most experience to lead the country. Winston is running for governor of Cebu.

Before the declaration of support for Binay, Rama said, he had frequent discussions with Congresswoman Garcia related to One Cebu’s support for Binay.

Members of the Garcia family, Rama and Binay met in the City Sports Club before the party announced its decision.

Also reportedly present during the meeting were Rep. Benhur Salimbangon (Cebu Province, fourth district) and Mandaue City Councilor Emmarie “Lollipop” Ouano-Dizon, who is running for mayor.

Aside from the meeting, Rama said, they also visited some officials of the Archdiocese of Cebu and Iglesia ni Cristo.

With the alliance in place, Rama said some big political events are being organized in Cebu on Feb. 8 and 9, with UNA, Team Rama and One Cebu members. The official campaign for national candidates will start on Feb. 9.

He declined to reveal details.

‘Binay country’

As to the “Welcome to Binay Country” streamers seen on the roads leading to the site of the IEC closing mass last Sunday, Rama said it was not his group that put these up.

“Malicious gyud to,” he said.

If they really wanted to put up streamers to promote Binay, he said, they would have done a better job.

Tinago Barangay Captain Joel Garganera, who is part of the IEC organizers and also a political ally of Rama, shared the sentiment.

He said the putting up of those “Binay Country” streamers was “unfair”, because it diverted some attention away from an event that organizers had spent years preparing for.