Espinoza: What happens after six months?

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Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama and seven other City Hall officials are now out of office after the Department of the Interior and Local Governments served the Ombudsman’s May 2 suspension order for six months.

The other suspended City Hall employees are Collin Rossell, Maria Theresa Rossell, Francis May Jacaban, Angelique Cabugao, Jay-Ar Pescante, Lester Joey Beniga and Nelyn Sanrojo.

Their suspension stemmed from the complaint of City Hall’s tax mappers -- Filomena Atuel, Maria Almicar Diongzon, Sybil Ann Ybañez, and Chito Dela Cerna – filed before the Ombudsman in April this year for withholding their salaries. Prior to their complaints before the Ombudsman, they complained before the Civil Service Commission after they were transferred to different departments where they were tasked to work on jobs not related to their expertise as tax mappers.

Ombudsman Samuel Martires, in an eight-page resolution, found sufficient grounds to put Rama and seven others under preventive suspension for grave misconduct and conduct unbecoming of a public officer and conduct prejudicial to the best interest among others.

As a matter of procedure, Vice Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia assumed the functions and responsibilities of the executive’s office as acting mayor for six months while Mayor Rama is serving the preventive suspension order.

The suspension order is up to November this year unless sooner lifted by the Ombudsman for some valid and justifiable reason. This means that if Rama intends to run for reelection in next year’s polls, he will be filing his certificate of candidacy (COC) in October this year while still serving his suspension.

Will there be realignment of candidates who will be running under the Barug Party of Mayor Mike? We will know what will happen to Rama’s party once the deadline of the filing of the COC comes.

Meanwhile, Vice Mayor Garcia’s first order of the day after he assumed office as acting city mayor was to appoint lawyer Kristine Joyce Batucan as the temporary city administrator, Liezel Calamba as the temporary city assessor and Sam Salimbago as his chief of staff.

In a press conference, Acting Mayor Garcia said: “I don’t wanna rock the boat. As I have said I want continuity. I want han-ay, tunghay, kay lisod kaayo nang situation nga mabalda bitaw ang trabaho.” He said he has enough time to make little changes in how things are being run in the government.

Garcia said he will adopt some programs undertaken by Mayor Mike. But he said, there are Rama’s policies that he will do differently like shortening the duration of the Monday flag raising.

The six-month suspension of Mayor Mike and seven others may be too long a period for them to be out of office, but certainly too brief for those who have been appointed by Acting Mayor Garcia to replace them. Unless there is another suspension order lurking in the dark against Rama and the seven others for some other offenses.

Granting that Rama’s suspension is shortened or he has fully served his suspension and he is back in office, the next thing that will happen is that those appointed by the acting mayor will have to pack their things and leave. And will Rama still rehire his appointees, who were perhaps responsible for his suspension?

On the other hand, former mayor Alvin Garica, father of the acting mayor, should be proud seeing his son running the City’s affairs, albeit for only six months. But prouder still, if I may say, is Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, the acting mayor’s aunt. You know what I mean.

Mayor Rama should have learned his lesson not to tangle with a lady governor.


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