Emotional workers welcome back Rama
Jean Marvette A. Demecillo/FPL (The Freeman) - February 8, 2016 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Emotions were high as hundreds of Cebu City Hall employees and barangay workers welcome back Mayor Michael Rama after serving his two months preventive suspension.

  During the ceremonial turnover, City Attorney Jerone Castillo said the 60-day preventive suspension implemented on December 10, 2015 has expired at 10:30 a.m. yesterday.

“Based on the discussion of lawyers, by operation of law, the preventive suspension of the mayor expires 60 days which is today at 10:30. And by operation of law, our elected mayor who enjoys the sovereign will of the residents of Cebu City is hereby reinstated as mayor,” Castillo said.

Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella submitted his accomplishment report during the two-month period where he was acting mayor.

“As I assumed as the acting mayor with a heavy heart, by operation of law, I am now relinquishing this temporary office. Now, no longer with a heavy heart, but a heart full of joy and happiness because today, at this juncture, I am relinquishing the office of acting mayor and I am submitting to the honorable mayor my accomplishment report,” Labella said.

Labella said there is no need for an order from the Department of the Interior and Local Government for the reinstatement of Rama.

“There is no more need for an order because the suspension order categorically states that he will be suspended 60 days so immediately after the 60-day period shall have expired, then the respondent public official must report for work, otherwise he could be charged of abandonment unless he will file a leave of absence,” Labella said.

In his speech, Rama said it is “refreshing” and he feels rejuvenated.

Today is his first day of duty after serving his suspension since yesterday was a holiday.

“With distinction and pride, I am receiving again the responsibility as the duly-elected and no longer the SM but reinstated mayor with full function and all other duties and responsibilities from the very able Vice Mayor Edgar Labella. Daghan salamat for holding the fort,” Rama said.

Rama said it is enough that he is back at City Hall which he considers as his home.

He thanked City Hall employees for functioning even without his presence.

“It is enough that I am back in the home that I belong and you are my family and thank you for bringing me back to where I should be. Luckily, divinely, serendipity, whatever you call it, December 10 now February 8, not only a Family Day but also Chinese New Year,” Rama said.

In a press conference, he described his two months being out of the City Hall as “humbling, fascinating and exciting.”

“The whole 60 days was a growing journey and also it becomes rejuvenating,” he told reporters.

Now that he is back, Rama said he will call for a meeting with department heads today for him to be apprised of the status of the City Hall programs and projects while he was out.

Labella admitted that the most challenging task during his tenure was the preparation of the two big events held in the city – International Eucharistic Congress and Sinulog.

“Of course, we have very big international events the Sinulog and the IEC. They were very challenging in a sense that it is the first time that I’ve acted as acting mayor in two very big international events and I thank God that they were very successful,” he said, adding that there was also Rama who participated in the preparation.

Labella has approved three ordinances passed by the City Council and has vetoed one ordinance which seeks to impose a one-year moratorium on demolitions of the illegal structures in the city.

He has issued four executive orders and has attended different meetings and consultations to different stakeholders.

He has responded to seven fire incidents in various areas of the city. He has facilitated the deferment of seven court-ordered demolitions in Cebu City.

Also yesterday, City Hall employees celebrated Family Day which is the preliminary event leading to the celebration of the 79th Charter Day of the city on February 24.

At 7 a.m. yesterday, a thanksgiving mass was celebrated by Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma who echoed the message of Papal Legate Charles Maung Cardinal Bo to protect the family.

In his homily, Palma told the employees to always use the three words in its family members –please, thank you, and sorry.

After the final blessing, Rama went up and hugged Palma.

Palma had his breakfast with Rama, Labella, and other officials after the mass, during which Rama explained to the prelate his controversial selfie at the closing Mass of the IEC last January 31.  (FREEMAN)

 

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