Rama ‘not invited’ to executive session

WORK IN PROGRESS. Only the first three floors of the 10-story Cebu City Medical Center are open to the public. According to the facility’s medical director, work on the eighth to the 10th floors has already started using funds collected from private donors during one of Mayor Michael Rama’s “investment beggings.”
WORK IN PROGRESS. Only the first three floors of the 10-story Cebu City Medical Center are open to the public. According to the facility’s medical director, work on the eighth to the 10th floors has already started using funds collected from private donors during one of Mayor Michael Rama’s “investment beggings.”AMPER CAMPAÑA

PREVENTIVELY suspended Mayor Michael Rama will not be attending the executive session on July 24, 2024 to shed light on the unfinished Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC).

City Councilor Jocelyn Pesquera, in a phone interview on Friday, June 28, objected to his presence, saying the essence of his preventive suspension is that he will not have the opportunity to tamper with the evidence relating to his case, which is why suspended employees are barred from the workplace.

Pesquera said Rama is not required to appear before the council, as he “is not the only person who can give updates regarding the CCMC.”

City Councilor Nestor Archival initially wanted to invite the mayor to the executive session.

Work on the CCMC was halted when the City terminated the contract with M.E. Sicat Construction, which was working on the upper floors in November 2022.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that the City has P700 million in savings that it will use to resume construction as soon as the project is put up for bidding.

But City Councilor Mary Ann de los Santos, in a privileged speech on Wednesday, June 26, urged Acting Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia to withhold the use of the P700 million savings before bidding, citing the need for transparency on the funding allocation and lack of concrete planning throughout the years.

Archival, in a separate interview on Friday, said he does not really know why Rama cannot enter the corridors of City Hall.

“Wa gyud ko kahibaw ana unsay tinuod nganong di siya kasulod (I don’t really know what’s truly the reason he can’t enter),” he said.

He said he understood the term “suspension” to refer only to Rama’s function as mayor, but not to his being a private citizen.

Archival pointed out that the preventive suspension was about Rama’s inability to pay city personnel on time.

“Nya kung moanha siya nga iinvite namo to discuss regarding sa mga items like frequency and mga information lang, I don’t think nga suspended na,” he said.

(And if he comes because we invited him to discuss regarding items like frequence and just information, I don’t think that’s suspended.)

Archival said he changed his mind about inviting Rama.

“Technically, wala nako gipadayon akong invitation lang. Ang ilang point kung suspended or whatever wala nalang ko mo-argue,” said Archival.

(Technically, I did not proceed with my invitation. Their point was he was suspended, so I decided not to argue.)

He said they can ask the Cebu Medical Society (CMS) for updates on the CCMC.

Rama was able to secure funding from the private sector for the completion of the eight to 10th floors of the CCMC. The funds were secured and downloaded to the CMS.

The completion of the last three floors was given to Dakay Construction as the project’s contractor, which was selected by the donor in consideration of the recommendation of Rama and the CCMC administration.

Peter Mancao, CCMC medical director, in a previous interview, said the contractor already started the construction of the eighth to 10th floors, but he has no definite timeline as to its completion.

Pachico Seares, in his column News+One, said Rama could not be banned from City Hall unless he went there to remove documents or coax witnesses.

Seares pointed out that what was taken away from Rama was his function as mayor, not his rights as a private citizen or even as a guest of the City Council, which has a lot to clarify about the CCMC project.

Rama along with seven other city officials are serving a six-month preventive suspension for the non-payment of salaries of four regular city employees.

In a 10-page resolution signed by Ombudsman Samuel Martires and issued on May 2, 2024, the office found sufficient grounds to grant the complainants’ prayer for issuing an order for preventive suspension against the city officials.

The Ombudsman also said the order was “immediately executory” under Section 27(1) of Republic Act 6770, or the Ombudsman Act of 1989. / JPS

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