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Cebu News

Claims he was crucified: Rama ‘sad, upset’ over suspension

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines -  Standing in front of hundreds of supporters at the Cebu City Hall grounds, suspended Mayor Michael Rama said yesterday he will abide by the “hurting, disappointing and upsetting” order of the Office of the President.

“I will abide by the rule of law and taking the proper legal processes to question this preventive suspension order,” Rama said in tears.

Rama cannot hold office for 60 days until the Office of the President resolves the complaint filed against him by Labangon Barangay Captain Victor Buendia.

Buendia said Rama abused his authority and committed grave misconduct and oppression when he ordered the center island in the barangay demolished last year. The barangay had spent for the project.

“This issue is a justiceable controversy wherein a proper legal process is to be followed. However, I should point out that I remain the duly elected mayor of the City of Cebu. I will never abandon the people who elected me. I am still their mayor. I am still the people’s mayor,” Rama said.

“The people voted for me, therefore they alone have the sovereign right to remove me, no one else and not even Malacañang,” he said.

Political maneuvering?

Rama said the rule of law can be “marred, disfigured and distorted by men who wield power without conscience.”

“No matter what, it is still UNA versus the Liberal,” he said.

Rama is a member of the United Nationalist Alliance, under the presidential bet Vice President Jejomar Binay. Rama left Liberal Part in 2012.

“It is not me who is suspended, you are all suspended. Ang importante, dili ni corruption akong suspension,” Rama said.

Rama said he did not enter politics to be a millionaire, but with a mission of “good governance.”

“Crucify him! That is what I got for following the rule of law. The mayor is just doing his job,” he said, adding that he is not a troublemaker and that he will not do anything to create division in the city.

Rama said he has not been remiss in his duties as mayor and that his conscience is clear.

He said it is just disappointing “how politics has degraded governance into sheer mockery.”

Turnover

Yesterday, Rama told Vice Mayor Edgardo Leballa to hold the fort. He also returned the vehicle issued to him by the city.

“I have done my share. Edgar (Labella), ampingi ang City Hall. To all City Hall employees, ayaw mo pagtinapulan. Ayaw mo pangawat. Whatever is my fate on this political struggle, thy will be done,” Rama said.

Even with his suspension, Rama said he will remain active in his own little way like being chairperson of the Sinulog Foundation.

Labella, himself a lawyer, said Rama may still function as chairman of the foundation, as well as the upcoming 51st International Eucharistic Congress, as these positions are not connected to his functions as mayor.

“I don’t think there are prohibitions kay it is not with his connection by his public office pero if mag-enroll og public functions, of course, dili una siya in the meantime,” Labella said.

Labella said the Department of Interior and Local Government has given him the go signal to assume as mayor.

He said he is assuming the mayorship with a “heavy heart.”

“Mao ra gihapon akong functions. Of course, naa lang siguroy additional functions but I have to clear this out with DILG – what functions nga wala nako ma-perform ug unsa ang akong di dapat i-perform when I was just an acting mayor during the time the mayor was out of the country,” Labella said.

Review

Yesterday, Rama filed a petition for review before the Court of Appeals here, saying the order was a grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Office of the President. 

His son, Mikel, stands as his lead counsel together with lawyers Floro Casas Jr. and Jasper Pelayo.

“Accordingly, there is absolutely no basis for the respondent Office of the Pre-sident to rule that the evidence of guilt against petitioner Mayor Rama is strong when the Affidavit-Complaint of respondent Buendia does not even contain any specific allegation, much less proof, in support of the administrative char-ges for grave abuse of authority, grave misconduct, and oppression against herein petitioner,” Rama’s petition reads.

Rama alleged clearing the center island Labangon was legal and had factual basis. He said nothing on record would show that he approved its construction.

“A careful reading of the pertinent documents on record particularly the Program of Works and Estimate (POWE), will show that the approved project is only for the installation of street lighting in Katipunan and Salvador Streets, Barangay Labangon, Cebu City,” he said.

It was reportedly Buendia who “illegally deviated from and substantially modified the approved plan and scope of work for the street lighting project by illegally constructing a center island along the subject road,” Rama added.

On this basis, Rama said he cannot be faulted for ordering the center island cleared, especially that it was reportedly causing severe traffic in the area and posed hazard to motorists.

He said even the Department of Public Works and Highways made a similar order.

He asked the Court of Appeals to issue a Temporary Restraining Order and writ of preliminary injunction to enjoin the Office of the President, the Department of Interior and Local Government, or their agents from implementing the suspension.

Views

Cebu Auxiliary Bishop Dennis Villarojo, secretary general of the 51st International Eucharistic Congress, expressed dismay over Rama’s suspension.

“Naturally, as IEC secretary general, I felt dismayed because it is a setback on our preparations for the Congress,” he told reporters yesterday.

The IEC will take place in Cebu City from January 24 to 31.

“We are confident that Cebuanos won’t let the city down. We can still work together and push for the success of the IEC for the pride of our city, province and the honor of the Philippines and greater glory of God,” he added.

One those who attended the gathering at the City Hall grounds yesterday was Emelona Jacalan, a worker at the city’s Department of Welfare of the Urban Poor.

She said she is confident that operations at City Hall will go on smoothly despite the mayor’s suspension.

“Wala man ko maguol kay kahibaw ko unsa kabuotan si Mayor Rama, ug nakakita ko sa iyang mga binuhatan, ang akong ikasulti lang sa pikas nga maayo unta kung unsa inyong gibuhat sa mayor mahibalik ra ninyo,” Jacalan said.

Flordeliza Bonita Regla, a resident of Barangay Kamagayan said she went to City Hall hurriedly when she heard Rama say, “Walay biyaay, di tamo biyaan.”

“Siya ang mayor nga bisa’g pobre mi, iya gihapon ming tagdon. Wala mi niya pasagdi ug ako mismo kita ko ana,” Regla said. — /JMO (FREEMAN)

ACIRC BUENDIA CEBU CITY CITY CITY HALL COURT OF APPEALS DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT MAYOR OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT RAMA STRONG
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