Cebu News

Pesquera refunds Rama’s P20T calamity aid

Jean Marvette A. Demecillo - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - In a bid to save suspended Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama from another suspension, former councilor Jocelyn Pesquera yesterday admitted paying for the refund of the P20,000 calamity assistance received by her rumored boyfriend in 2013.

Pesquera made the refund on Friday at the City Treasurer’s Office without the knowledge of Rama.

The former councilor who had been linked romantically to the mayor said her intention of paying the amount was to put Rama “on equal footing” with the members of the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan on the controversy.

Pesquera, who is running for councilor under Team Rama in the coming May elections, said she decided to refund the amount on behalf of the mayor after she heard rumors that a second suspension order against Rama is underway and that BOPK councilors were spared because they have returned their calamity assistance.

“Ang ilaha man gud, kun if ever naay i-suspend, ilang gi-punterya ang atong mayor ug ang members sa City Council. Ang ilang gi-rason kay ang dili i-apil sa if ever nga suspension ang mga BOPK councilors kay tungod ilahang gi-refund ang calamity assistance,” Pesquera said.

“So, karon, on equal footing silang tanan. Kun mao man gani na nga selective justice ang buhaton sa DILG Secretary nga Liberal Party member, kun ilang i-suspend ang atong mayor ug vice mayor, then they should also suspend all the other BOPK councilors,” she added.

Pesquera said that what she did has nothing to do with her personal relationship with the mayor.

“Everything, when it comes to city matters it’s really nothing as to any relationship. I can segregate things as to personal and professional. I’m already beyond that,” she said.

Pesquera said she purposely did not inform Rama about her plan because she knew he had a different position on the matter.

“I’m sure he will not agree maong wala ko mananghid, wala ko nagpahibalo,” she said.

She urged the staff of BOPK councilors to also refund the calamity assistance if they believe that they were not affected by the calamities.

“I urged them because ang ilang councilors and including them are criticizing the mayor but they accept the benefits of Mayor Rama,” Pesquera said.

A copy of the official receipt bearing the name of Rama was posted on Facebook Page Maghisgot Kita’g Politika, Bay and had been a subject of discussion among the netizens.

After learning about it, Rama immediately called a press conference to deny having made a refund. The suspended mayor said he did not know about it and even asked acting Mayor Edgardo Labella to look into it.

Rama said it has been his position from the start that the City Hall officials and employees deserve the assistance from the city government.

Lawyer Reymelio Delute, who filed the complaint in 2014 against Rama and other city officials, said the payment was too late because the DILG has already concluded its investigation.

He insisted that the refund will not exonerate Rama from his accountability for violating the law.

Pesquera, however, said the issue is not whether or not the refund would erase a supposed violation but to put all the respondents on equal footing.

“Ang issue is just putting them on the same level,” Pesquera explained, as she insisted that there was legal basis in granting the assistance.  —/FPL(FREEMAN)

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