Governor gains more support vs Rama

CEBU. Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia.
CEBU. Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia. SunStar File

MORE and more Cebu officials have expressed support for Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, as the latter faces a rift with Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama over her order to stop the implementation of a portion of the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (CBRT) project in front of the Provincial Capitol building.

From only four district representatives last Sunday, March 24, 2024, more officials including Vice Governor Hilario "Junjun" Davide III, members of the Cebu Provincial Board, the mayors of component cities, and the Vice Mayors’ League of the Philippines (VMLP) Cebu Chapter have all rallied behind the Governor’s order to stop the construction of a portion of the CBRT project, citing heritage protection of the nearly century-old Capitol building.

The VMLP-Cebu passed a resolution in support of the Governor and Cebu City Vice Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia.

Signed by its vice president, Balamban Vice Mayor Alex Francis Binghay II and secretary-general Dumanjug Vice Mayor Erwin Gica, the VLMP-Cebu Chapter, in a statement, said the group supports Raymond as chairperson of the Cebu City Cultural and Historical Affairs Commission in authoring a resolution approved by the City Council asking for the temporary halting of the construction of a bus station in front of the Capitol until a new design is approved by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP).

For his part, Davide said "I got your back, Guv,” in a statement posted on the Cebu Provincial Government's official social media arm, Tuesday, March 26.

Davide said protecting and preserving historical landmarks such as the Capitol Building falls within the duties and responsibilities of a governor.

"I am thus, confident the Office of the President will sustain her position," Davide said.

On March 22, Rama filed an administrative case before the Office of the President against Garcia for alleged abuse of authority, grave misconduct, improper conduct, and unprofessional conduct for a public official.

This, after Garcia ordered a stop to the CBRT construction along a portion of Osmeña Blvd. in front of the Capitol to the Fuente Osmeña Rotunda through her Memorandum 16-2024 addressed to the Chinese contractor Hunan Road and Bridge Construction Group Co. Ltd.

The CBRT’s first package covers a distance of 2.38 kilometers from the Cebu South Bus Terminal along N. Bacalso Ave. to the front of the Capitol building along Osmeña Blvd. Rama asked the President to "discipline and suspend" the Governor, citing social disturbance, economic losses, and political turmoil Garcia allegedly caused.

Rama maintained that the Provincial Government had no territorial jurisdiction over the City of Cebu although Garcia claimed Cebu Province owned the disputed portion of Osmeña Blvd.

Other mayors

Five mayors of the component cities of Bogo, Carcar, Naga, Talisay and Toledo issued a declaration of support to the governor.

In a statement posted online on Tuesday, the mayors said while they are not promoting the "complete cessation" or termination of the CBRT project as it benefits Cebuanos, there should be a balance between the development and preservation of historical monuments and structures to maintain Cebuano identity and culture.

"There should be a balance between the past, the present, and the future.

A co-existence should be at hand," the mayors said in a statement. Bogo City Mayor Carlo Jose Martinez, Carcar City Mayor Mario Patricio Barcenas, Naga City Mayor Valdemar Chiong, Talisay City Mayor Gerald Anthony "Samsam" Gullas, and Toledo City Mayor Marjorie "Joie" Perales signed the statement on March 25.

"Cebu’s Provincial Capitol Building is a cornerstone of our identity, standing tall since the American era. I strongly support Governor Gwen Garcia’s efforts to preserve this architectural gem," Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes also said in a separate statement on Monday.

Meanwhile, Third District Representative Pablo John “PJ” Garcia described Rama's complaint as "ridiculous," saying the Governor was "simply upholding the law." PJ said Republic Act 10066 or the National Cultural Heritage Act 2010 mandated the protection of structures older than 50 years and any construction within designated buffer zones will need authorization from the NHCP.

He pointed out that the CBRT proponent has begun construction in front of the Capitol Building which falls within its designated buffer zones without the NHCP's approval.

“Who in his right mind would argue that the governor should be held liable for simply upholding the law?” said PJ in a statement on Tuesday posted in the Cebu Provincial Government's official social media arm.

The congressman also said Rama's model cities such as Singapore have their Preservation of Monuments Act from 1971.

Deputy Speaker Vincent Franco “Duke” Frasco also expressed support for the Governor.

"While it is recognized that infrastructure development is an instrument towards progress, it is equally crucial to take cognizance of our collective duty to preserve the integrity of Cebu’s historical landmarks that form the foundation of Cebuano's identity and economy," said Frasco.


On Tuesday, March 26, Rama announced that a complaint had already been filed against the Governor.

“Let them answer my case," Rama said in an episode of the Cebu City online program "Ingna'ng Mayor.”

Rama refused to comment on the Cebuano public officials’ support for the Governor.

Earlier, in an interview on March 1, CBRT project manager Norvin Imbong told SunStar Cebu they had coordinated with Cebu City’s Cultural and Historical Affairs Office (CHAO) in 2020 to identify structures and sites with historical and cultural significance that will be affected by the project.

Imbong said they were not able to receive recommendations or corrections from the CHAO at the time. Imbong told SunStar Cebu on Monday that due to delays in the civil works, the CBRT project may not be operational in July 2024, despite their earlier commitment.

Recognizing the validity of the Governor's order, Imbong said project proponents have started to secure the necessary permits. He hopes to have them as soon as possible.

The CBRT project is one of the top priorities of the Marcos Jr. administration with a budget allocation of P28.78 billion. (EHP)


No stories found.

Just in

No stories found.

Branded Content

No stories found.
SunStar Publishing Inc.