ONE promised continuity. Another promised change.
Both promises were heard in the same rally on Thursday, 12 days before the election, when candidates of the Liberal Party (LP) and the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) went onstage in front of the Capitol.
Former Cebu City mayor Tomas Osmeña asked voters to send him back to City Hall, then added he would resign if, after 60 days, he would fail to solve a housing problem that has hounded the City and the Province for a decade.
In the same rally, President Benigno Aquino III asked Cebuano voters to support Liberal Party (LP) presidential candidate Mar Roxas and vice presidential candidate Rep. Leni Robredo, saying they would continue and build on his administration’s gains.
At the height of the rally around 5:30 p.m., Fuente Police Station Chief Michaelangelo Beltran estimated the crowd in front of the Capitol building at 8,500.
The rally began past 4 p.m. and ended around 7 p.m.
President Aquino pointed out that the administration has built 7,900 classrooms in Cebu alone.
He also said that the National Government has poured in around P34.8 billion worth of infrastructure projects. Among those he mentioned was the ongoing upgrading of the Mactan Cebu International Airport, which is a public-private partnership program.
Roxas said that if he gets elected, he would work to provide more jobs in information technology, tourism and construction, among others.
“Yan ng maaasahan niyo sa daang matuwid dahil ang unang konkretong hakbang laban sa kahirapan ay hanap-buhay. Yan ang tututokan natin (You can expect that because under ‘daang matuwid’, the first concrete step against poverty is employment. That’s what we will focus on),” he said.
Also present in yesterday’s rally were Rep. Leni Robredo and LP senatorial candidates Rep. Cresente Paez, Sen. Ralph Recto and Sen. Francis Drilon.
One of the highlights was the covenant signing between former mayor Osmeña and Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III, where they pledged to solve the long-running problem of the Ordinance 93-1 lots if elected.
The covenant states they will solve it within 60 days after assuming office. The covenant, though, does not outline what steps or actions the officials will take.
Under Ordinance 93-1, the Province gave occupants the chance to buy Capitol-owned lots in Barangays Apas, Lahug, Busay, Kamputhaw, Capitol Site, Kalunasan, Lorega, Mabolo and Tejero, all in Cebu City. They had two years to pay, which was later extended by 10 years.
But when the extension ended in 2004, fewer than half of the nearly 5,000 Cebu City residents occupying 93-1 lots had paid for the lots in full.
Since then, the City and Province have considered some options, including a land exchange.
Osmeña, in his speech, said he would resign from the mayorship if he fails to fulfill his promise.
“Your suffering will be over. I promise you that. If I can’t solve it, I will resign,” he said. He also promised to order a one-year moratorium on City Government-initiated demolitions.
In a news conference prior to yesterday’s rally, Mayor Michael Rama said the covenant was just for political mileage and that it is his administration that has laid down concrete plans to fix the problem.
“It would end up as empty promises. I am just wondering why Junjun (Governor Davide) is allowing himself to be part of these shenanigans...I am thinking that the whole thing is all about showbiz,” Rama said.
Traffic near the Capitol was heavy for several hours during the rally late yesterday afternoon.
Cebu City Transportation Office (CCTO) operations chief Jonathan Tumulak said the closure of portions of Escario St. and Osmeña Blvd. caused vehicles to build up on nearby roads.
Starting at 2:30 p.m., the CCTO closed the portion of Escario St. from the corner of Don Gil Garcia St. to J. Avila St. Roads were reopened to both private and public vehicles at 8 p.m., Tumulak said.