A DAY after he was appointed by Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña as deputy mayor on education, Councilor Nendell Hanz Abella confirmed his departure from Team Rama through a phone interview with a local broadcaster yesterday.
Meanwhile, Osmeña denied allegations that he is raiding members of the City Council allied with Team Rama to gain force in the council, saying the opposition has no value to him.
In his Sun.Star Cebu column ‘Saksi’ today, news anchorman Bobby Nalzaro said Abella explained during their brief phone conversation the circumstances that led to his decision.
“He admitted that this ‘former political has been’ and BOPK (Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan) chief (Osmeña) approached him and asked his support and cooperation in his administration. Hanz said he acceded to the request for as long as it is good for the city,” the column read.
Abella, however, clarified that transferring or officially taking oath before BOPK was not discussed.
He also denied receiving any offer or pressure from BOPK to join the group.
He said he would have wanted to stay with Team Rama and support any legislative agenda of the administration.
Abella earlier declined to join his former teammates who took oath last Saturday as new members of Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).
He said the change of heart was ignited after some of his Team Rama colleagues and supporters reportedly bashed him on social media, talking behind his back and calling him an opportunist and traitor.
His failure to attend party meetings and gatherings called by former mayor Michael Rama added to the suspicions of his partymates on his probable departure from the group.
This prompted him to follow suit after a former Team Rama affiliate, Councilor David Tumulak, announced last week his departure from the group to avoid getting involved in the political clash.
A day after his pronouncement, Osmeña appointed Tumulak as deputy mayor on police matters.
“He (Abella) said as an elected official, he has to do his job because that is his promise to the district’s electorate to support projects of the administration that will benefit the Cebuanos regardless of party affiliation. He assured Team Rama colleagues that he will still support their legislative agenda for as long as it is good for the city’s constituents. He said he will formally talk with Rama about his plan,” the column read.
As of now, Abella has not signified plans to officially take oath as new BOPK member and will remain independent in the meantime.
For his part, Osmeña denied allegations of him raiding Team Rama affiliates to turn the tables and make BOPK the City Council’s majority bloc once again.
“I don’t ask anyone to pledge allegiance. It never happened in the past. When I was not here, they got (former Councilors) Gerry Carillo, Richie Osmeña and Noel Wenceslao. What are they accusing me of?” he asked.
This, after Councilor Pastor Alcover Jr., in a press conference, told reporters yesterday that the recent deputations by the mayor is part of what he calls the “Operation October”.
“It’s like Tomas’ target is to get the majority of the council before October. If they (Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan) get three, the possibility is that they’ll become the majority. This would mean they’ll get to control City Hall. Problems will arise if they succeed in raiding Team Rama,” he said.
Alcover said BOPK becoming the majority would bring about at least three problems.
First, the administration might push for the selling of the South Road Properties lots which costs a huge amount of money.
Second, Osmeña might tamper with the 2017 annual budget considering that the opposition will be outnumbered.
Third, the mayor might threaten some 68 city village chiefs allied with Team Rama given that the Congress and Senate have agreed to postpone the supposed barangay polls on Oct. this year to 2017.
“There’s a possibility that these people, who were formerly connected with BOPK, have done something which only Tomas and Margot (Councilor Margarita, the mayor’s wife) know. Maybe there’s a reason to use for harassment or blackmail. If you’re an opportunist, you’re a traitor. A traitor will always be a traitor,” Alcover said.
Osmeña said the decision to appoint Tumulak and Abella to take their respective executive functions had nothing to do with them joining BOPK.
He said BOPK is not a political party and the group’s loyalty will always remain to that of the city’s people, not to anyone.
Despite Abella taking over the education sector, Osmeña said Councilor Augustus Joy Young will still oversee the City’s scholarship program to avoid conflict of interest.
Abella is an administrative official in University of Cebu, one of the beneficiaries of the City Government’s scholarship program.
Asked if he plans to appoint other Team Rama councilors as deputy mayors, Osmeña said the idea had not crossed his mind.
“I’m not thinking about it. I have my priorities. My concept of government is service. In other words, it’s not an issue of policy, but of management,” he said.
Osmeña also found the recent move of Team Rama to join PDP-Laban as “cheap and degrading.”
“He’s (Rama) trying to cling on whatever he can to hang on so he’s pimping Team Rama members to PDP-Laban. Isn’t he ashamed? But that’s up to them, I don’t want to get involved. To me, it’s just a matter of time...I think (Vice Mayor Edgardo) Labella will abandon Rama. He’s left behind. He’s not in good graces with (President Rodrigo) Duterte,” he said.
Labella, for his part, said he’d rather be a farmer in Bohol than abandon his party.
In another development, Alcover denied that his son was appointed by Rama as deputy mayor of the mountain barangays.
This, after Margot said last week that the charges filed by Alcover against the mayor before the Office of the Ombudsman for giving executive functions to BOPK councilors is “ironic.”
He said that contrary to Margot’s claims, his son, Pastor Arnoco Alcover II, was no longer the incumbent Agsungot barangay captain when Rama appointed him as administrative assistant under the Office of the City Mayor.
“He was appointed a year after he lost in the local elections. Although his functions where similar to that of a deputy mayor, he was just representing the mayor in the operations of the City Hall in the mountains,” Alcover said.
In a certificate issued by the City’s Human Resource Development Office dated July 17, 2014, Arnoco was recognized as a City Government employee who have rendered his services during Rama’s administration.