Espinoza: The end?

Espinoza Free Zone
Espinoza Free Zone

Was the administrative complaint that Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama filed against Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia before the Office of the President well thought of, or was it just spur of the moment?

Governor Garcia issued a cease and desist order (CDO) last Feb. 27, 2024 directing the contractor, Hunan Road and Bridge Construction Group Co. Ltd., to stop the work on the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (CBRT) project on Province-owned lots on Osmeña Blvd. for the project’s alleged potential violation of the Philippine Heritage Law.

Rama filed on March 20 the administrative case against the governor for alleged abuse of authority, oppression, grave misconduct, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, and violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees and the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Critics could describe Mayor Rama as a crybaby because of his antics, but the mayor was perhaps only following the available administrative remedy against an elective official like Garcia on the acts of the governor that he feels are prejudicial to the best of public service.

As legal basis of his complaint, the mayor cited the following alleged violations of the governor: abuse of authority under Section 1(e) of Administrative Order (AO) 23, s. 1992; oppression and grave misconduct under Section 1(c) of AO 23, s. 1992; and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service in violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees and the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act under Section 1(h) of AO 23, s. 1992.

When asked about the complaint, Governor Garcia did not provide any comment, which was unusual of the feisty governor. The other day, however, the governor found support from Cebu’s district representatives on this matter. Vice Gov. Junjun Davide also supported the governor over the mayor on this issue.

Sixth District Rep. Daphne Lagon, Seventh District Rep. Peter John Calderon, Mandaue City Lone District Rep. Lolipop Ouano-Dizon and Ako Bisaya Party-list Rep. Sonny Lagon issued separate statements supporting Governor Garcia on her CDO against the continued construction of the first package of the CBRT that allegedly violates heritage laws.

These district representatives in Congress stressed the protection and preservation of the Capitol building, which was declared a heritage site, including its buffer zones, for the benefit of present and future generations of Filipinos, especially Cebuanos.

On the other hand, the Capitol under Governor Garcia has already started the site development work on the new Capitol building that will be relocated to the hinterlands of Balamban. So what will happen to this iconic Capitol building once the Provincial Government moves to Balamban?

Rama asked the Office of the President to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation on his complaint. If warranted, he asked the President to discipline and suspend Governor Garcia for the supposed “social disturbance, economic loss and political turmoil” brought about by the CDO that the governor issued against the contractor.

Despite the governor’s order, work on the CBRT project is ongoing, with a 60 percent accomplishment, according to CBRT project manager Norvin Imbong.

So, under these circumstances do you think Rama and Garcia will ever see eye to eye if they meet again in a public event? The administrative case that Rama filed against the governor put a finish to whatever was left of their personal relationship or niceties that they showed the public in previous appearances.

And my fair prediction that Cebu City Vice Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia, the governor’s nephew, will run for mayor against Rama is not far-fetched.

In the spirit of the celebration of Holy Week, I hope everyone takes care during this break. Happy Easter!


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