Rama counters Garcia: ‘I’m people’s mayor’

Rama counters Garcia: ‘I’m people’s mayor’
PEOPLE’S ADDRESS. Suspended Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama (center) poses for a photo with (from left) Councilor Phillip Zafra, Acting City Vice Mayor Donaldo Hontiveros, his son Mikkel Rama, and Barangay Cogon Pardo Captain Harry Eran during Rama’s People’s Address held at Casino Español in Cebu City on Thursday evening, July 4, 2024.EARL PADRONIA

A DAY after the official State of the City Address of Cebu City Acting Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia, suspended Mayor Michael Rama delivered his People’s Address at Casino de Español on Thursday, July 4, 2024.

Rama, in his speech that lasted less than 15 minutes, emphasized that he is a people’s mayor and will continue to be.

He did not detail his accomplishments in his speech, but his audio-visual presentation (AVP) countered some of Garcia’s reports in his address at City Hall on Wednesday, July 3.

Rama is currently serving his six-month preventive suspension by the Office of the Ombudsman due to complaints from some city hall plantilla employees whose salaries were not paid for 10 months. The suspension started in May.

Accomplishments

Clad in his customized barong, Rama’s speech started with a message of gratitude for his family and supporters.

Before his speech, an AVP lasting over 18 minutes showcased his achievements since he entered politics in 1992.

One of his highlighted achievements is the city’s upcoming hosting stint of the Palarong Pambansa from July 6 to 17.

In his AVP, Rama’s accomplishments highlighted the Barug Cebu City Program, emphasizing a better business environment and employment opportunities, adequate water supply, resettlement and housing, urban and upland development, good governance, public safety, comprehensive education, environmental management and sustainability, barangay welfare and community development, universal healthcare, cultural arts, infrastructure and development enhancements, traffic management and mass transit, youth, children and mental health.

It also emphasized education, which offers scholarships and grants, as well as the “Tara na Basa” program that helps students enhance their reading comprehension.

In addition, healthcare has also been widely improved, with Rama bringing to life his vision of the Cebu City Medical Center, it said.

Rama also commended the presence of barangay officials, including those who have been his former foes, now allies in politics.

The suspended mayor further emphasized that he will remain as the “people’s mayor.”

“I will continue to be your people’s servant. I will serve all of you, no distinction,” Rama said.

He added that “bitterness, anger, and vengeance” are not his cup of tea. “Healing can come if you forgive. I forgive them,” Rama further said.

Rama also threw some banter towards his critics, whom he called “sipsip (suck-up).”

Palaro

In a press conference after his speech, Rama said that he seeks no role in the upcoming Palarong Pambansa, stressing that he wants it only to be successful.

He urged everyone to be courteous with the delegates as part of promoting Cebu.

He also stressed unity with all the local government units, including Acting Cebu City Raymond Garcia and Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, for the success of the Palarong Pambansa.

Rama said that there is still work that needs to be done to prepare for the Palaro, especially at the billeting station for the delegates.

He tasked Acting Vice Mayor Dondon Hontiveros and Cebu City Sports Commissioner John Pages to act to resolve the matter.

He also confirmed his attendance at the Palaro, stressing, “Who will stop me?”

On why Rama delivered a People’s Address, suspended City Administrator Collin Rosell said in the same press conference that it is a solemn duty to report due to the constitutional rights of the people to be informed and that all public officials and employees are accountable to the people.

On other matters, he refused to comment on the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (CBRT) issue with the Provincial Government and other relevant issues, in which talks will resume after the Palaro Pambansa.

Garcia’s state address

Garcia stressed in his State of the City Address on July 3 during the 16th Sangguniang Panlungsod Annual Organizational Session at Cebu City Hall that his diplomacy approach works in dealing with the affairs of the Cebu City Government under his term, which will last for six months.

Garcia, after assuming his position in May, opened talks with the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD), the Cebu Port Authority (CPA), and the Cebu Provincial Government to resolve the issues between the Cebu City Government and these government agencies.

These include signing the long-delayed excavation permit requested by the MCWD to provide water to the residents in the upland and mountain barangays in the city.

Garcia has also met with CPA officials to discuss Compaña Maritima’s structural handling in the Aduana area, despite pending court cases for the lot dispute between the two government entities.

He also led the discussion on the situation of the occupant’s 93-1 lot and helped them have a chance to own the lot where their home is located. The said lots are owned by the Cebu Provincial Government.

Before his suspension, Rama had an ongoing rift with MCWD, CPA, and Cebu Provincial Government.

Rama, in October 2023, removed and replaced MCWD chairman Jose Daluz III, but Rama’s move was not recognized and stayed in office, resulting in further conflicts, especially the incident of alleged trespassing by Cebu City personnel inside the water district headquarters on April 2024.

Last April, Rama ordered the removal of the CPA’s fences in front of the Compaña Maritima building and fenced the ongoing wharf extension of the CPA due to an alleged lack of permits from the Cebu City Government.

Before the incident, the Cebu City Government clashed with CPA starting with the latter winning in the Regional Trial Court the dispute in the ownership of Compaña Maritima back in December 2022.

Meanwhile, Rama has an ongoing conflict with Governor Garcia, with the most recent being the filing of administrative complaints to the Office of the President (OP) against the governor in March 2024.

The complaint stemmed from the governor’s memorandum stopping the civil works at the two bus stations of the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit Package One in front of the Cebu Capitol Building in February 2024.

Both officials also had disagreements about the venue of the Sinulog Festival held last January. Rama decided to hold at the South Road Properties, while the governor wanted it to be held at the Cebu City Sports Center. / with reports from VSU Interns Jerry Verzo Yubal, Grezel Balbutin, and Fred Leander Baldos

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