Cebu News

Dance contest was for fund raising: UNA hijacked CCMC event?

Jean Marvette A. Demecillo - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Did Team Rama, under the United Nationalist Alliance, try to hijack a fund raising event for the Cebu City Medical Center and turn it into a Team Rama gathering?

No, says UNA Regional headquarters Cebu City media bureau chief Aniceto Abbey Canturias. Although he would later admit he invited Team Rama affiliates and their supporters to the event to “gather friends”.  

Yesterday, CCMC held its first Cebu City Open Hip-hop Showdown at the Robinsons Galleria.

THE FREEMAN got hold of a copy of a letter sent to different barangay officials in Cebu City asking them to gather supporters “in the run up to the presidential campaign period.”

The letter was written by Canturias who also sits as head of the Cebu City Investment Promotions Center.

“We are pleased to invite you and at least 100 of your close supporters to be with our North and South District candidates attending the 1st Cebu City Open Hip-hop Showdown at 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. February 11, 2016 at the Robinsons Galleria,” the letter read.

The letter was also noted and signed by UNA regional coordinator Mayor Michael Rama.

Further, Canturias said in the letter that it was an opportunity for the party to showcase their “unity and strength.”

“This event, which keeps 3,000 men and women in young audiences, coincides with our first come-to-the open ‘panag-abot’, in the run up to the presidential campaign period,” he said.

“Your presence and participation will bring significance, projection of influence, and positive impression on the powerhouse winning potential of Partido Panaghiusa-Team Rama,” he added.

The invitation also promised free burger, softdrinks, water and beauty products to attendees.

In an interview, Canturias denied that UNA or the Team Rama used the fundraising event for political advancements, saying he is just inviting the other barangays to attend the event.

However, he said the letters were sent last Tuesday only to barangay officials affiliated with Team Rama.

“Invitation lang na. Nang-invite ra gyud mi,” he said.

“Politics is opportunistic. Because there are many people there, people are going there. We are simply making good of the opportunity,” he added.

However, Canturias said no one from the UNA national candidates attended the event.

“Amoa ra gyud ‘ning kalihokan sa local. Mura ra og panag-abot sa mga amigo ug mga kauban,” he said.

When asked if it is an early campaign, he said it was just an “ordinary” event which aims to “gather friends.”

He also said it is not in conflict with the Civil Service Commission rules prohibiting the attendance of a “political event” during office hours, Canturias said the event started at 5 p.m., beyond office hours already.

He added that the event was for CCMC’s reconstruction.

“Primary need ang naa’y hospital. We cannot afford the expensive hospitals. We need to get that up. That is the main agenda of the administration to get the CCMC back on its feet,” he said.

“We are making opportunity to gather kay aron daghan og tao diri. As I said, politics is opportunistic,” he added, when asked why they utilized the CCMC event for political advancement.

Canturias did not mention who from the Team Rama candidates attended the event yesterday. Rama was expected to open the event with a hip-hop dance presentation but is in Manila on official business.

When sought for comment, City Councilor Sisinio Andales said Team Rama is taking advantage of the event for campaigning.

“Prohibited sa Civil Service (Commission) kon government funds gamiton para sa politika and violation sad na sa Election Code nato. Supposedly, government employees should not engage in partisan politics. Klaro kaayo na nga ila g’yud gigamit ang City Hall employees para maduso ilang ambisyon nga madaog,” he said.

Andales, affiliated with the opposition, said Canturias should also have invited all political parties to “be fair”.

With this, Andales said he will investigate if Team Rama used the city’s coffers for campaigning.

“Akong i-check kinsay ga-fund ana kay kun sa city, we have to make proper objection and file proper complaint kinsay nagpasiugda ana,” he said.   Rama said UNA and Team Rama have not violated any rule.

“Unsa may problema ana? Government fund for campaigning? Wala ko kahibaw nga using government funds. Ang akong nahibaw-an, naay hip-hop and gi-encourage nga mo attend ang under UNA. Unsa may problema? Wala tingali problema ana oy,” he said.

“I cannot see nga naa’y violation. Asa man padung ang kwarta? CCMC kay fund raising. Basta dili maabot sa UNA, dili na problema,” he added.

Rama said campaigning starts the day you become a public servant.

The contest was held in partnership with Jollibee, Pepsi, Robinsons Galleria and Ever Bilena Beauty Products. — /BRP (FREEMAN)



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