Rama, 5 other CH officials face raps

CEBU. Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama.
CEBU. Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama. Photo from Cebu City PIO

CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama and five other City Government officials are facing separate complaints of grave misconduct, grave abuse of authority and oppression over their alleged illegal intrusion into the MCWD main office on Monday night, April 15, 2024.

Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) chairman Jose Daluz III and general manager (GM) Edgar Donoso lodged the complaints against Rama before the Office of the President through the Department of the Interior and Local Government on Monday, April 29.

Daluz and Donoso also filed similar complaints against City Administrator Collin Rosell, City Budget Officer Jerone Castillo, City Legal Officer Carlo Vincent Gimena, City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office head Harold Alcontin and City Transportation Office head Raquel Arce before the Office of the Ombudsman on the same day.

Daluz said they had secured video recordings that will prove that the city mayor was behind the “illegal intrusion” of the Cebu City personnel led by Rosell into the MCWD main office in downtown Cebu City.

“The video was clear nga ni-ingon siya (Rama) nga ‘Go, go, go na, unsa pa man gipaabot ninyo? Gusto ninyo ako pa ang moanha diha. Go, attorney Colin, go inside na. Gipraktisan ta ni gahapon.’ Klaroha sa video,” Daluz said.

(The video was clear that he (Rama) said, ‘Go, go, go now, what are you waiting for? Do you want me to come there? Go, attorney Colin, go inside now. We practiced this yesterday.’ The video was very clear.)

Aside from grave misconduct and grave abuse of authority, Rama and the other city officials are also facing complaints of Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service, and Conduct Unbecoming of a Public Official and violation of Republic Act (RA) 7613, or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

The five city officials, except Rama, are also facing complaints for violation of Section 3(e) of RA 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, as amended, trespassing under Article 281 and Grave Coercion under Article 286 of the Revised Penal Code.

Daluz said Rama had acted beyond his capacity as a city mayor, saying Rama could instead resort to bringing the leadership issue to court.

Daluz’s group did not file charges against Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA)-appointed MCWD officer-in-charge (OIC) John DX Lapid, who resigned four days after his appointment on April 12.

“I’m doing this for the MCWD, for the management. Kanang mga mayor nga unsaon nga diretso lang og exercise sa ilahang authority (there are mayors who just exercise their authority outright),” Daluz said, referring to Rama.

MCWD and the Cebu City Government have been involved in a power struggle for the control of the local water district since last year.

Rama’s side

Sought for his reaction, Rama, in a phone call, refused to comment directly on the charges, saying he had yet to receive the official copy of the complaints. He said he had no idea regarding the video that captured his voice.

He also questioned Daluz and Donoso for filing a complaint on behalf of the MCWD despite their suspension notice.

SunStar Cebu tried to get the side of Rosell, Castillo, Gimena, Alcontin and Arce, but to no avail.

On the morning of April 15, MCWD denied entry to Lapid. Later in the afternoon, Lapid managed to enter the MCWD office with the assistance of Cebu City Government personnel, gaining access to the GM’s office, and subsequently barricading and cordoning off MCWD office premises.

Tensions escalated when Daluz and fellow board members Miguelito Pato and Jodelyn May Seno, as well as Donoso, entered the main office building in the afternoon and hurried to the GM’s office.

On the night of April 15, in a video sent to SunStar Cebu, Rosell and Alcontin can be seen arriving at the MWCD building around 9:44 p.m. and barging into the GM’s office by using an ATM card. This incident led to Lapid resigning as OIC and taking an indefinite leave. He was replaced by lawyer Joselito Anthony Baena on April 22.

Daluz, Pato and Seno had been suspended for six months by the LWUA on March 15, as the regulator sought to investigate issues at the water district, including alleged non-compliance with procurement laws. On April 12, Donoso received a 90-day suspension from the interim board installed by LWUA. The suspension stemmed from Donoso’s refusal to provide documents requested by the interim board for investigation into the water district’s issues.

Despite this, the four MCWD officials do not recognize the authority of the LWUA to suspend them. (EHP)

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