Seares: Yogi Ruiz, who says he'll run for Cebu City mayor in 2025, said he had killed '60 criminals.' The first Customs commissioner from Cebu, Ruiz was also PDEA regional chief who had worked as waiter, salesman, City Hall casual.

CEBU. Former Bureau of Customs commissioner Yogi Ruiz.
CEBU. Former Bureau of Customs commissioner Yogi Ruiz.Bureau of Customs Facebook photo

[] Ruiz says "recycled politicians" have done nothing to improve Cebu City and its residents

[] He didn't name the "recycled" politicos but says Mayor Mike Rama is merely "sloganeering" in his campaign for a "Singapore-like Cebu City"

THIS early -- at a press briefing Saturday and a video interview released Sunday (January 13 and 14, 2024) -- one aspirant for Cebu City mayor announced he would run in the May 2025 elections.

He already decided, Yogi Felimon L. Ruiz said at the Golden Peak Hotel press-con.

"It's in my heart," he said, "no point in denying it." In the "Not-So-Late-Night Show with Jason Monteclar," Ruiz said categorically he will run, without setting any condition, no "if" or "but."

Why this early, when most wannabes for an elective post would conceal their intention to run until a few days or weeks before the campaign season? Ruiz, in a Daily Tribune report by Rico Osmeña, said "there's no point" to deny speculations that he's running, as he needed "to tell the people my vision."

5-POINT PROGRAM. The "vision," he said at the press-con, includes a five-point program, which, a City Hall publicist says, is also pretty much covered by Mayor Mike Rama's first-100 days list of things to be done. Ruiz's Five are traffic control, waste disposal, peace and order, floods, and health services in the barangays.

What look new or seem to be not yet extensively talked about are Ruiz's proposals for cable cars, a ferry terminal at South Road, and the requirement on each establishment to hire seniors for 20 percent of its work force.

YOGI RUIZ WHO? To the Cebu City public though, the product Ruiz must sell first is himself and his name.

While he told about his early education and employment, he didn't give specifics about his family, place of origin, whether he's a native of the city. Ruiz said he "came" to the city in 2006.

He's listed to have earned a B.S. in Criminology and a Master in Public Administration from University of the Visayas in Cebu City. In 2017, he trained on water-based anti-narcotics operations from the US Navy; in 2008, on jungle-based anti-narcotics operations from the US Army Rangers.

He told broadcaster Monteclar he has never held an elective office yet, which may explain why Ruiz announced his political plan early when, in stark contrast, veteran politicians would campaign hard for the next election but minus the noise, without saying definitely they'd run.

His "vision" is priority one for Ruiz but in promoting his program of governance, he may have to improve, foremost, public awareness of his person and his name. Before the voters will even consider voting for him, they need to be aware that "Yogi Ruiz" exists and is a mayoral timber. The boxes to check: [] voter's awareness of the candidate and [] desirability of the candidate to the voter.

Ruiz was acting Customs commissioner but it was a national position that he held only briefly, on record, less than a year: from July 20, 2022 to February 10, 2023 or "seven months and three weeks" in Ruiz's own count. Since 2017, before he got the top Customs post, he was head of the BOC Enforcement & Security Services. He claimed to have made "a mark" at the Customs as its chief. But he hasn't done things yet that would make Yogi Ruiz a household name, particularly in Cebu City.

He was regional PDEA chief, yes, but the major media ripple he reportedly created then was when he ordered in February 2017 inmates of the Cebu Provincial Jail to strip naked and march on prison grounds, provoking criticism of a possible human rights violation.

THE PARTY TO CARRY HIM. In the two forums where Ruiz announced his decision to run, there was no mention or reporting of this crucial question: which party would he lead, or would carry him, as standard bearer.

Surely not Barug, the current ruling party. Ruiz criticized Mayor Rama, whom he apparently lumped with "recycled politicians" who allegedly had done nothing for the city and its people. Monteclar told Ruiz he suspects former mayor Tomas Osmeña has made him run. No, Ruiz said and promptly returned to the subject on why he'd run.

What's assumed to be a "reality and political fact" in Cebu City though, at least until refuted, is that to become mayor, one must be supported by Barug or BOPK. An independent cannot be considered serious about his intentions or is massively deluded regarding his chances against a Barug or a BOPK rival. Ruiz though can be a spoiler on the bid of either major party bet.

REASONS FOR RUNNING. Ruiz said he's running to help the city, "protect the youth," and "give back" in public service to the city where he rose from being a waiter, a granite salesman, and a City Hall employee, among the jobs he took before rising to the top positions. He'd want his children to be proud of the city where they live.

He graduated from a barangay high school, he said, had walked three kilometers to and three kilometers from school, and had worked menial jobs to occupy later the premier executive positions of PDEA regional director and Customs commissioner.

"Pwede diay ang graduate sa barangay high school," or a waiter or a City Hall casual to rise to the top executive positions such as PDEA regional director and Customs commissioner, Ruiz said. "Pwede diay," Monteclar could've added, "mag-mayor sa harang dakbayan" in the south.

THOSE 60 PERSONS KILLED. "The Not-So-Late Night Show" intro teases the audience with the clip that shows Monteclar asking Ruiz "how many criminals" he had killed. That must be presumably during his term as PDEA agent, then as PDEA regional director, or, stretching probability, as BOC intelligence officer for five years before President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. appointed him as acting commissioner.

Aside from the answer "60" (persons) that Ruiz gave on TNSLNS, nothing more was said about the killings, which obviously help define anyone's character as government executive. Monteclar later told me that Ruiz, off camera, said the "criminals" were all killed "in line of duty through PDEA operations."

Recall that Tomas Osmeña, as mayor in May 2016, waded in controversy when he offered P50,000 bounty for "every drug lord, robber or any other criminal" killed by the police. It could be the cops' extra source of money, Osmeña said, as he publicly encouraged law enforcers then to form "hunters' teams."

Ruiz might have disclosed -- or not -- if he or his agents were rewarded by Tomas or any high other official for some of the 60 kills. And was any local government official, as Monteclar asked, involved in drugs at the time he was with PDEA? Ruiz would say: Your question is tough, sweat-inducing ("makapasingot"), then he'd talk about something else.

Still, the bit about the killings made some splash for Yogi Felimon Ruiz's early jump into the pool of Cebu City politics.


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