Raymond’s priority: ‘To get oriented’

Cebu City Vice Mayor Raymond Alvin N. Garcia.
Cebu City Vice Mayor Raymond Alvin N. Garcia. (File photo)

IT WILL be a busy week for Raymond Alvin Garcia as he starts his new function as acting mayor of Cebu City on Monday, May 13, 2024, while the local chief executive is serving a preventive suspension for six months.

His first order of business is to check the status of the salaries of the four regular City Hall employees who were not paid for 10 months.

However, he did not say what his other plans are during this period, as he just wanted to get oriented so he would know how to help the city.

In a phone interview on Sunday, May 12, the vice mayor said he will the give the City Assessor’s Office a deadline to release their remaining salaries.

If the matter requires a City Council resolution, he said he will ask councilors to expedite it.

“As of now, I do not know yet where their papers are. If it requires a council resolution, charging the amount to a prior year, then I will request the council to expedite the charging,” Garcia said.

One of the complainants that got Rama and seven other officials preventively suspended told SunStar Cebu on Wednesday, May 8, that they already received four months of salary and were waiting for the remaining six months.

Meanwhile, Garcia said he will gather all department heads on Monday so they can apprise him of what they are doing.

He said he will sit down with them individually to look at where they stand on their operations.

“What do they need, how I can be of help, how the mayor’s office can help, how much more assistance do they need, what are their plans and programs, what are the status of all these plans and programs?” he said.

“I need an update sa ilang gipangbuhat (on what they are doing),” he added.

Garcia said he has yet to talk to Mayor Michael Rama since news of the latter’s preventive suspension came out.

He said he will just wait when Rama will be available.

Garcia said he plans to stay in his office in the legislative building instead of transferring to the mayor’s office in the executive building.

Garcia was Rama’s running mate in the May 2022 elections.

Earlier this year, both politicians announced they would keep the tandem when they run for reelection in the 2025 midterm elections.

The Office of the Ombudsman issued on May 2 a preventive suspension order for six months against Rama, City Administrator Collin Rosell, his wife Office of the City Assessor officer-in-charge Dr. Maria Theresa Rosell, Francis May Jacaban of the City Legal Office (CLO), 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 Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) 7 was only able to serve the suspension order Friday afternoon, May 10.

DILG 7 officials, led by DILG 7 Director Leocadio Trovela, tried to serve the order Friday morning, but failed since the eight officials were not present and their personnel would not receive the order.

Filomena Atuel, Maria Almicar Diongzon, Sybil Ann Ybañez and Chito dela Cerna filed criminal and administrative complaints against the respondents on Feb. 23 for alleged violations of Section 3(e) and (1) of Republic Act 3019, also known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, as well as for grave misconduct, conduct unbecoming of a public officer, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, grave abuse of authority (oppression) and violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

These all stemmed from the reassignments of the four complainants, who worked as tax mappers and appraisers at the assessor’s office, and their failure to receive their salaries for 10 months.

When the employees were reassigned to different offices on May 17 and 18, 2023, they deemed the move illegal and in violation of the 2016 Omnibus Rules on Appointments and Other Human Resource Actions.

Atuel was reassigned to the Cebu City Anti-Mendicancy Office, Diongzon to the Office of the City South Road Properties Management Office, Ybañez to the Cebu City Operation Second Chance and Dela Cerna to the Cebu City Environment and Natural and Resources Office.

On June 16 and 19, 2023, the complainants appealed to the Civil Service Commission (CSC) 7.

They also reported back to the assessor’s office on June 19, however, upon their return, they were forced to share a single table and were not given any specific task.

Atuel, Diongzon, Ybañez and Dela Cerna received a favorable decision from the CSC 7 on Oct. 12 and Oct. 17.

In his 12-page decision, CSC 7 Director Carlos Evangelista declared their reassignment “invalid.”

Ybañez said the mayor’s office, through the CLO, filed a motion for reconsideration before the CSC 7 on Nov. 3, which the latter denied. / JJL

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