Espinoza: The political line is drawn

Free Zone
The political line is drawn
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Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, who is serving his six-month preventive suspension on orders of the Ombudsman after his “men” refused to pay the salaries of four employees at the City Assessor’s Office, cannot keep his cool with the way his Vice Mayor now Acting Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia is running the affairs of City Hall in his absence.

Rama questioned the legality of designating Assistant City Administrator Mary Rose Rubino to sign official documents like procurement requests and cash aids. Acting Mayor Garcia gave that authority to Lubino to provide “more efficient, effective and faster service” to the city.

In an interview on Monday, June 24, 2024, Garcia said the authority of Lubino to sign on his behalf is limited. Garcia felt the need to designate some of the tasks to Lubino because of the voluminous records in his office.

To recall, the Commission on Audit warned the late Mayor Edgardo Labella in 2020 when he delegated former city administrator Floro Casas Jr. to sign official documents on his behalf, declaring that this might create a risk for the City Government, as the City could end up entering into transactions without the knowledge of the mayor.

Garcia, however, emphasized that “it’s not the same as with Mayor Labella, which was a blanket authority. This one, this has limitations... I’m doing this so service will be more efficient, more effective. Public service cannot wait.”

Rama, in an interview on Monday, said he would discuss with his lawyers the legality of the designation of Lubino to sign official documents, which the City Council also gave the imprimatur. If they find the move to be invalid, Rama promised to take legal action. What would be his legal standing before a tribunal? As a concerned citizen? Maybe.

Rama seemingly cannot accept the fact that he has been suspended. “We have to remember, this is my administration, this is not his (referring to Garcia) administration,” he said during that interview. “Kuyawa ana nga memorandum (that’s a precarious memorandum),” he added.

The City Council was not spared from Rama’s criticism on its approval of the memorandum designating Lubino to sign certain official documents. He doubted if the City Council read the memorandum before giving its seal of approval. He said previous records show that they (referring to the city councilors) approve without reading.

With the current exchanges of different views between Rama and Garcia, there is no doubt that the political line is now set between the two. This, despite, previous pronouncements of Rama before he was suspended that Garcia would still be his running mate for vice mayor in next year’s May midterm polls.

It is clear now that Garcia will no longer be Rama’s running mate for vice mayor. Rama has not been timid in his bid for reelection even with rumors spreading that he has another suspension coming.

If Rama chooses no. 1 South District City Councilor Dondon Hontiveros as his running mate, it will be the first time that both candidates for mayor and vice mayor are residents of the south district. It has been the practice for the longest time that the candidate for mayor and the candidate for vice mayor do not come from the same district. One must either be from the south or the north district.

Will this situation prod Garcia to run for mayor? I doubt it since his father, former mayor Alvin, wants him to run for vice mayor. Perhaps this is to spite former mayor Tomas Osmeña, who declared his intention to run for vice mayor with Councilor Nestor Archival as his bet for mayor.

Well, anything could happen under our brand of politics. Let’s wait and see!

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