Raymond Garcia to report as mayor on Monday

RAYMOND ALVIN GARCIA.
RAYMOND ALVIN GARCIA.CEBU CITY NEWS AND INFORMATION

CEBU City Vice Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia confirmed on Saturday, May 11, 2024, that he would take over from Mayor Michael Rama, who has been preventively suspended for six months.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government in Central Visayas (DILG) ordered Garcia to “immediately” exercise powers and functions of the local chief executive in an acting capacity.

In a memorandum dated Thursday, May 9, which SunStar Cebu obtained on Saturday, DILG 7 Director Leocadio Trovela said the preventive suspension order of Rama and seven other city officials was “immediately executory.”

Trovela said they already served the Ombudsman’s order to the respondents.

“Pursuant to my obligation and duty as vice mayor of the city of Cebu and by succession, of course, I will be following the orders and I will assume the position of the city mayor,” Garcia said in a phone interview on Saturday.

He said he received a call from the DILG on Friday, May 10, telling him to take command.

Garcia said he will report on Monday, May 13, as the mayor.

When asked if he already talked with Rama, Garcia said he plans to talk to the mayor later on Saturday.

He also did not say who his city administrator would be.

He said his first priority is to ensure the work flow at City Hall remains unhampered.

Rama, in a phone interview on Saturday, refused to comment on the DILG memorandum advising Garcia to take over from him.

“Mao ba (Is that so)?” he said when told the preventive suspension order has been carried out.

He also refused to divulge his whereabouts for security reasons.

“I have been around, just that I may not be in Cebu City where am I now. I don’t want to tell for security reasons,” Rama said.

When told that the City Hall appeared to be deserted on Friday, Rama said: “’Tayg naay namatyan (Maybe someone died).”

In a phone interview with Councilor Donaldo Hontiveros, he said he has yet to receive any memorandum from the DILG advising him to take over the duties and functions of the vice mayor.

When asked if he was ready to take the responsibility, Hontiveros said he already experienced being vice mayor in 2021, when then vice mayor Rama became the mayor by right of succession when the late Mayor Edgardo Labella died.

Hontiveros disclosed that he called Rama on the day the suspension order came out, and assessed that the latter was in “good spirit” despite the development.

Asked if Rama gave him any directives, Hontiveros said there was nothing in particular relating to the suspension, save for instructions to continue what they have started for the Palarong Pambansa, which the City is hosting in July.

SunStar Cebu tried to get a comment from City Administrator Collin Rosell, but to no avail.

SunStar Cebu also tried to get a comment from Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia on Rama’s allegation that someone was destroying his name in Malacañang, but she refused.

On Thursday, Rama said someone was “destroying terribly” his image, but when asked if he was referring to the governor, he said the governor should be the one to ask.

Aside from Rama, the Ombudsman also suspended City Administrator Rosell, his wife Office of the City Assessor officer-in-charge Dr. Maria Theresa Rosell, Francis May Jacaban of the City Legal Office, assistant department head for operations Angelique Cabugao, admin division head Jay-ar Pescante, assessment of records management division head Lester Joey Beniga and computer division head Nelyn Sanrojo.

The complaint stemmed from the reassignments of the four complainants, who worked as tax mappers at the assessor’s office. They said they did not receive their salaries since last July.

However, Sybil Ann Ybañez, one of the complainants, told SunStar last Wednesday, May 8, that they already received four months of salary and were waiting for six more months of salary. / AML

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