CEBU City Mayor Tomas Osmeña ordered the recall of ambulances and mini buses of some barangays.
However, barangay captains won’t return their vehicles and will instead seek intervention from the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas, saying the ambulances and the mini buses are vital to their daily operations and in responding to emergencies.
In a memorandum, dated July 14, Osmeña ordered Agsungot Barangay Captain Noli Anne Alcover to immediately return the vehicles to the General Services Office.
“Non-compliance will be strictly dealt with,” the one-page memorandum states.
The same memorandum was reportedly sent to Barangays Babag and Cambinocot. The three barangays are identified with Team Rama, a political group headed by former mayor Michael Rama.
But the mayor said the memorandum will be sent to all barangays.
In his news conference yesterday, Osmeña said he ordered the return of the ambulances and mini buses for an inventory.
“There are many ambulances that are not being used. We don’t even know what their running condition is. So it should be brought in. It should be evaluated,” he said.
But aside from this, Osmeña said, he had asked the Emergency Rescue Unit Foundation (Eruf) to evaluate the emergency response program of the barangays.
He pointed out that there are personnel in the ambulances that don’t even have paramedics training.
He said he chose Eruf because they have the best training in the world.
“They have the credentials for that. We are training people now to run the ambulances,” he said.
Osmeña said the recall of the vehicles will only be temporary. It will be redeployed upon the recommendation of Eruf.
“But it can’t be possible for each barangay to have its own ambulance,” he said in Cebuano.
During the Association of the Barangay Council’s (ABC) general assembly yesterday, members believe Osmeña only wants to cripple services of the barangays, majority of whom backed Rama’s candidacy during the last elections.
Councilor Joel Garganera, who spoke during assembly, said the move will paralyze the barangays’ operations.
The former Tinago barangay captain and ABC vice president said most of the barangay vehicles have already been returned to the City Hall upon the orders of then acting mayor Margarita Osmeña, the mayor’s wife.
Exempted in the recall order during that time were ambulances and other vehicles used for emergencies.
This time, Garganera said, it seems the mayor doesn’t want the barangays to have any vehicle.
“This is already a disservice to the barangays, especially those in the mountains. For me, the mayor is curtailing the barangays’ ability to respond to emergencies by denying them use of the vehicles left,” he said in Cebuano.
Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella, who also attended the meeting, advised the barangays to pass a resolution requesting and urging the ombudsman to order the mayor not to recall the ambulances and mini buses.
“This is prejudicial to the interest of public service,” he said, adding that ambulances and mini buses were not used personally.
Labella, who is a lawyer and former director of the ombudsman, said it is one of the anti-graft office’s duties to direct “any officer or employee of the government to perform any act or duty required by law, or to stop, prevent, and correct any abuse or impropriety in the performance of duties,” citing Section 15 of the Ombudsman Act.
Labella said he will personally deliver the resolution to the ombudsman.
During the assembly, 54 of the 80 barangays captains in the city were present.
In another development, barangay health workers (BHWs) were summoned to the Cebu City Hall yesterday for a meeting.
“All of (your services are) considered terminated because this is a new administration but you are given the chance to re-apply,” Cebu City Councilor Mary Ann de los Santos, deputy mayor for health services, told them during the gathering.
After they re-apply, they will be subject to evaluation, she said. However, they only have one month to do this, she added.
“I will extend your appointment for one month. In the meantime, you apply already so we can evaluate because after one month we have to make that decision,” the mayor told them.
De los Santos said the assessment of their performance will be done by doctors of the City Health Office, including Drs. Alma Corpin and Alicemarie Aycardo.
She assured them that the result of the evaluation will not be determined by their political affiliation.
The councilor encouraged BHWs to focus on their job and their performance instead. Angiela Mae Conte, USJ-R Intern