SEVEN days after the May 9 elections, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama conceded and said he was ready to move on from his loss to Mayor-elect Tomas Osmeña.
In a prayer rally held in front of City Hall by thousands of his supporters last night — the third since last Monday — Rama said it was time to move on.
He said the “legal battle” to question the results of the election will continue, but that he’s ready to get some rest, then join church and civic organizations once he returns to the private sector at noon on June 30.
“We can’t put the City of Cebu in jeopardy. Governance has to proceed and Team Rama will continue to be around, wa’y biyaay (no one gets left behind). Having our prayer rallies for days will no longer do good. But legal (responses) will have to proceed,” he said.
In a separate interview, Mayor-elect Osmeña said he was ready to take over City Hall even if the incumbent administration has yet to form a transition team.
He said he would need no more than two hours for the transition. “That is why they call me super Tommy,” he added.
Osmeña defeated Rama, his former vice mayor and political ally, by 34,046 votes during last week’s elections. But it was Team Rama that won, for the first time, a majority of seats in the City Council. Rama’s running mate, Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella, also won reelection over Councilor Nestor Archival, who is Osmeña’s ally.
With the turnover of power less than seven weeks away, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has issued a memorandum circular asking all governors, mayors and DILG regional directors to start preparations for an effective turnover and change of administration.
DILG Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento asked that a Local Governance Transition Team be formed to handle the change in leadership starting at noon on June 30.
The circular states local chief executives should conduct an inventory of all real properties, movable properties, fund utilization, audit reports, contracts and loan agreements, executive-legislative agenda, inventory of personnel and executive orders, among others.
According to the circular, the transition team should be composed of the governor or mayor as the chairperson, as well as department heads, DILG personnel and representatives of a non-government or people’s organization.
Rama’s staff has started packing up his things, starting by removing eight paintings and wrapping these in newspapers. They’ve also removed the mayor’s awards, which were displayed outside his office on the ground floor of the executive building.
Some of the personnel at the Office of the Mayor said they were told to bring his things to the Rama compound in Barangay Basak San Nicolas.
In the meantime, Rama’s cousin Ernesto Rama and son Mikel Rama, along with their fellow lawyers, will handle his election protest, which will be submitted to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) before the 10-day period after the election lapses.
Unlike his previous prayer rallies, Rama appeared calmer, more relaxed and lighthearted during last night’s activity.
‘Back to God’
In his speech after the mass, Rama said he is giving “all hurt, worries and wounded feelings” to God. He asked his supporters to do the same, as they lighted candles and offered these at the foot of the cross placed in the middle of a stage.
“Tonight, I said we are going back to God. We can’t take things within ourselves and we can’t afford to create trouble because we love Cebu City and I love my constituents and they love me, too. I don’t wish to be remembered as a man, as a leader who promoted violence. We’ve always been Rama-Labella; we will always observe the rule of law. That we can guarantee,” he said.
Rama said that a final mass will be held at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral at 5:00 p.m. on May 19. He asked the people to pray for him and the elected officials.
“Pray for us that we will continue to be motivated and trust again the system. That we won’t lose sight that it’s not winning that matters but how we fought the fight,” he said.
After his term ends, Rama said he will go on a month-long vacation to appreciate nature, because he has never done it again after being in public service for 24 years.
The outgoing mayor also promised that he will still be around as public servant, even if he is not elected for any public office.
He will be active in the Roman Catholic Church and will try to join the Knights of Columbus at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral get involved again in a civic organizations at the same time.
Defeated candidates under Team Rama like Councilor Gerardo Carillo, Apas Barangay Captain Ramil Ayuman, Edwin Jagmoc and Jaypee Labella attended yesterday’s prayer rally.
Rama thanked all of them for being with him, particularly Labella.
In a message, the reelected vice mayor Edgardo Labella promised Rama and members of their group that they will continue to work together, despite the mayor’s defeat.
“Di ko mahimo nga bise mayor kung di tungod sa kang Mayor Michael Rama. Salamat sa imong pagsalig nako. Gipasalig namo di molubad ang among pagtahod kanimo (I would not have become a vice mayor if not for Mayor Michael Rama. Thank you for trusting me. We will always respect you),” he said.
Councilor-elect Jocelyn Pesquera, for her part, urged those who observed unusual practices during the elections to contact Team Rama immediately.
Pesquera said that her law office will help draft their affidavits that will be submitted to the Commission on Elections.
Rama also assured other elected members of Team Rama that he will continue to be there for them.