Seares: Mayor Rama says (1) he wants ‘the world to know I love my president’ (2) tells cities, other LGUs they may pull out of MCWD and set up their own water district/s (3) orders lawsuit vs Capitol lawyers who called City Administrator Rosell ‘malicious’

The Short of It
Seares: Mayor Rama says (1) he wants ‘the world to know I love my president’ (2) tells cities, other LGUs they may pull out of MCWD and set up their own water district/s (3) orders lawsuit vs Capitol lawyers who called City Administrator Rosell ‘malicious’
CEBU. Photo of Mayor Rama with President Marcos Jr. on City Hall wall.

Mayor talked of respect, then of love

APPARENTLY to hose down talks that Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama must be supporting Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio and her dad former president Rodrigo Duterte, the mayor declared at a press-con Friday, April 26, 2024 that he supports President Marcos Jr.

“My support to President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has not faded but rather (it’s) resolved and steadfast.” Mayor Rama said he respects President Marcos “as the duly constituted commander in chief and will continue to respect and support him until the end of his term in 2028.”

The declaration of “love” wasn’t in the statement he read when the press-con opened. It came later in the random, unscripted comments he made later before winding up.

Questions on Rama’s loyalty to BBM

Talk about Mayor Mike Rama’s loyalty to President Marcos Jr. began circulating just before the Dutertes held a prayer rally in Cebu City last February 25, 2024, which Mayor Rama in effect hosted and supported, amid the quarrel between the Marcoses and the Dutertes, particularly highlighted in the last few days by FL Liza’s verbal attack on VP Sara.

There’s “no loyalty to speak about yet,” Mayor Mike said in Friday’s press briefing, citing the distance from the next presidential election, which is in 2028 yet.

Apparently, the mayor didn’t consider the president’s possible involvement in the mid-term election next year, unless the president would adopt a hands-off policy and make the contest open to all his supporters competing in the local races.

Nobody asked if the mayor would support the local candidates that President Bongbong might anoint as favorite aspirants. In other words, would Mayor Mike and the president be on the same side in the 2025 election. More specifically, would BBM endorse the mayor on his reelection bid? Most likely, Mayor Mike would brush that aside, “Layo pa kaayo.”

Photo of Mike, Bongbong on City Hall wall

As if to show Mayor Mike and President Bongbong are, ah, good, the mayor pointed to a framed blown-up photo of himself and the president, which hangs on the wall of a room where the press-con was held.

Both wearing red polo shirts, the mayor said it was taken at a birthday party, shortly after the 2022 election campaign, in which both won, Mike as Cebu City’s chief executive and BBM as the nation’s chief executive. “We did it,” Mike said he told President Marcos Jr. The message obviously being a sort of affirmation or reminder: We were together in that fight.

More than once, Mayor Rama pointed to the photo, inviting media to take photos of THE photo.

City to sue over ‘malicious’ tag on Rosell

At the press-con, Mayor Rama ordered City Hall lawyers to file a lawsuit against Capitol lawyers who last April 22 called out his city administrator, Atty. Collin Rosell, “for his lies and maliciously implicating Capitol participation” in the City Government-MCWD controversy.

Lawyer consultants of the Province deplored the “breach of confidence” that Rosell allegedly committed in his comments on the MCWD squabble, citing that the now city administrator was Capitol legal consultant from 2019 to 2022 during Gov. Gwen Garcia’s fourth term.

The Capitol lawyers didn’t say they’d sue Rosell for unethical conduct. “Prudence dictates,” one lawyer said, that they’d only say “Without prejudice. All rights reserved, period.”

Friday, the mayor fired ahead. When Capitol lawyers “called my city administrator malicious, they were in effect calling me malicious,” Rama said. “Sue them.”

More lawsuits for City Government to file

Mayor Mike more than once referred to his legal group “batteries of lawyers.” “Battery of lawyers” is a collective noun phrase that refers to a group or assemblage of legal professionals skilled in litigation and other functions of lawyering. And the mayor doesn’t have just one battery but “batteries” of lawyers.

He’d have enough number of attorneys to file more lawsuits. When a reporter told the mayor that the two persons from the Facebook page “Cebu Updates” who are sued by the city’s public information officer had already posted bail and been released, Mayor Mike said his “batteries of lawyers” may need to “reassemble,” as there are more lawsuits to file.

LGUs ‘welcome’ to get out of MCWD

Almost an aside but very much a part of his prepared text was his message to other local governments being served by MCWD but might want to get out.

Those cities and a number of towns, Rama said, are “welcome to buy out” pipes they’ve laid and other assets they’ve spent on and form their own water district. It was an almost off-the-cuff statement, since no specifics were given and no basic law was cited, such as whether it would be legally feasible under the Provincial Water Utilities Act.

He distributed copies of the Supreme Court decision in Rama vs. Judge Gilbert P. Moises (GR#197146 of December 6, 2016), which ruled the mayor of Cebu City is the rightful appointing authority over members of the MCWD board of directors. The SC struck down the Cebu Regional Trial Court ruling supporting the contention of the Province on appointment of water district directors.

The current controversy though started with the legal quarrel over the mayor’s authority to terminate directors, not over the authority to appoint. If he has power to terminate directors -- which the local RTC in a June 30, 2023 decision upheld but the SC still has to decide on appeal -- then mayor Edgardo Labella was right over firing three June Pe-led directors and recently Mayor Rama was right in dismissing the three Daluz-led directors.

MCWD ‘not political’ but over ‘corruption’

Mayor Rama said the MCWD trouble is not about politics but “pure mismanagement and corruption.” He didn’t, and nobody asked him to, explain or support that statement. LWUA though, in the 2023 resolution of its board of trustees ordering the takeover of MCWD, cited the flagging by COA and Cebu City Legal Office flagging of “uncompleted projects” and “contract irregularities” and a worsening level of non-revenue water.

Interestingly, the mayor qualified “corruption” at MCWD: “We are confronting unimaginable alleged corruption.” He used the hyper “unimaginable” but tacked on cautious “alleged.” 


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