A DAY after his 60-day preventive suspension ended, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama will fly to Manila today to attend the United Nationalist Alliance’s (UNA) event on the first official day of the national campaign.
Rama, UNA’s regional coordinator in Central Visayas, said he will defer to interim president and Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco and Secretary General JV Bautista to announce details of the party’s first official campaign event in Cebu.
Rama reported back to City Hall yesterday. Balloons and “Welcome back” streamers decorated his office, and some employees wore yellow shirts marked “SuperMike Returns.”
The mayor said he will meet with all department heads to get updates on all developments, particularly the operation for night dwellers and garbage collection.
“We’ll go back to basics. Just checking how things have been from the time I left,” he said.
Rama said he was hoping that leaders of One Cebu would make it to the UNA event in Mandaluyong today, but since they are still in mourning after the death of retired judge Esperanza Garcia, he would understand if they can’t make it.
Gubernatorial candidate Winston Garcia, in a separate interview, said he can’t make it to the event in Mandaluyong today but will attend UNA’s activity in Cebu later this month.
Starting today, candidates for president, vice president, senator and party-list seats are officially allowed to campaign.
The mayor attended a 7 a.m. thanksgiving mass yesterday at Plaza Sugbo grounds to mark the end of his preventive suspension.
The mass, celebrated by Archbishop Jose Palma, was also held for the City’s Family Day, which started the activities lined up for the 79th Charter Day celebration on Feb. 24.
When the mass ended, Rama, despite the rain, went up to the makeshift altar and hugged the archbishop. They later shared breakfast with Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella and other officials in the Office of the Vice Mayor.
The mayor later left for Radisson Blu to attend the launching of the Chinese Heritage Museum but came back past 10 a.m. and met with the City Legal Office headed by Atty. Jerone Castillo.
Castillo told the mayor that he was reinstated to the City’s top post “by operation of law.”
Ally to ally
Around 10:30 a.m. last Dec. 10, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) 7 served Malacañang’s suspension order on Rama.
It arose from an administrative complaint that Labangon Barangay Captain Vic Buendia had filed against Rama over the allegedly unlawful demolition of a median structure and streetlighting project along Katipunan St.
The mayor thanked Castillo and other City lawyers for defending him in the recent hearings by the DILG over Buendia’s case.
The proceedings are temporarily halted because of the 90-day ban on administrative cases against elected officials ahead of the May 9 polls. The ban will start today.
After his meeting with Castillo, Rama proceeded to the Plaza Sugbo grounds for the ceremonial turnover of the mayoral post from Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella.
“As I assumed the acting mayorship, it was with a heavy heart. Now, with a heart full of joy and happiness, I am relinquishing this temporary office,” said Labella, who is an ally of Rama. Both are seeking reelection.
Labella said there is no need for a DILG order for Rama to assume again as mayor, because the suspension order categorically stated that it was only for 60 days.
Labella also submitted to Rama yesterday his accomplishment report during his short stint as acting mayor.
Labella pointed out he had approved and signed three ordinances. But one ordinance, which covers the P6.4-billion budget, was returned to the City Council because it reportedly lacked the required number of votes when the measure was passed.
He also issued four executive orders, had the City send assistance to survivors of seven fires, facilitated the extension of demolition orders in seven areas, and ordered the distribution of cash to those already affected by demolition orders in five sites.
Rama, in his speech, thanked Labella for “holding the fort” while he was away.
He also thanked the City employees and department heads for serving the public.
“I am back in the home that I belong to and you are my family. Thank you for bringing me back to where I should be,” he said.