Rama threatens lawsuit over CBRT opposition

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama.
Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama.File photo

CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama has threatened to file charges against government officials and groups calling for a halt to the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (CBRT) project, as their actions could delay the project and worsen traffic.

Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia could be included in the lawsuit “if she includes herself among those opposing the project’s completion,” the Cebu City News and Information reported.

Rama reacted to the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) Cebu Chapter’s resolution, which called for the project’s immediate stoppage.

“Anyone stopping [the project], in a way, I will be constrained to file cases. And I am preparing cases already,” Rama said on his program, “Ingna’ng Mayor,” Thursday, March 7, 2024.

The mayor said LMP Cebu Chapter members must “mind their own business” and they should “respect the city’s autonomy.”

The mayor, however, did not disclose the specific cases he intends to pursue against those opposing the CBRT project.

LMP Cebu resolution

The resolution, dated Feb. 28, 2024, and approved by LMP Cebu Chapter president Daanbantayan Mayor Sun Shimura, asserts that the CBRT project “should be totally abdicated because it has caused irreparable injury to the economy of Cebu and has contravened the national heritage and cultural laws of the Philippines as it obstructs the view and facade of the Cebu Provincial Capitol which is a heritage building.”

It further said the project affects individuals from far-flung areas in the province who have transactions in Cebu City, where most key national government agencies and health facilities are located.

LMP Cebu Chapter, which groups 44 municipalities, supports the Provincial Board’s (PB) two resolutions calling for a halt of the CBRT project due to traffic and heritage concerns.

One of the four bus stations for the CBRT’s first package is under construction in front of the Capitol building, which is already over 80 years old.

The PB has said that the Capitol building is covered by the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009, which requires the protection of structures older than 50 years and authorization from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines for construction in designated buffer zones.

Last week, Garcia issued a cease and desist order halting the construction of bus stations.

The group made the resolution public in a meeting with the governor at the Capitol in Cebu City on Wednesday night, March 6.

Rama agreed to Garcia’s call to halt the construction of the bus stations in front of the Capitol, “but the whole infrastructure should not be stopped.”

He threatened to demolish the bus station if the CBRT proponents didn’t address the Provincial Government’s concerns and provide an acceptable design.

Solve traffic woes in province

The mayor said the LMP Cebu Chapter should focus on resolving the traffic congestion in their jurisdiction. He identified the towns from Argao to Carcar City in the south, and towns of Consolacion to Liloan in the north as having traffic problems.

The mayor urged the LMP Cebu Chapter to prioritize addressing the persistent traffic congestion within their area of jurisdiction.

He highlighted the southern towns ranging from Argao to Carcar City and the northern towns extending from Consolacion to Liloan as experiencing significant traffic challenges that require immediate attention.

“Magbuhat lang unta sila’g resolution ana (They should pass a resolution about that),” Rama said.

He added that traffic isn’t just a problem in Cebu City, but also in the cities of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu.

Osmeña Blvd. ownership

Meanwhile, Garcia reiterated on Wednesday evening that a portion of the Osmeña Blvd. in front of the Capitol building towards Fuente Osmeña Rotunda is owned by the Provincial Government.

This was Garcia’s reaction to former Cebu City mayor Tomas Osmeña, who said he is willing to go to court to reclaim the portion of the Osmeña Blvd. that was donated by his late father, former governor Sergio “Serging” Osmeña Jr., to the Provincial Government if the governor insists on stopping the CBRT.

“Get your facts straight,” said Garcia, referring to the former mayor.

Tomas is regarded as the brains behind the CBRT, which took 20 years to get off the ground.

Garcia told the mayors and officials from various government agencies during a meeting that Capitol’s ownership of Osmeña Blvd. was the result of a land swap deal between the Provincial Government and the Cebu Heights Inc. in the late 1930s. / EHP


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