Cebu News

Tommy: I can work with Rama councilors

Jean Marvette A. Demecillo - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Cebu City mayor-elect Tomas Osmeña is ready to work with a council dominated by allies of outgoing mayor Michael Rama.

"It's not an issue to me. I'll talk to anybody. I'll reach out to anybody but not everybody. I'm a reasonable person. You know, I'm not even relying so much on the city's internal sources. Whatever I have, I will make do," he told reporters yesterday.

The recent polls placed 11 members of Team Rama and six of Osmeña's BOPK in the council, an arrangement that is opposite of status quo wherein majority of the councilors are BOPK allies and the mayor is from Team Rama.

"It's not the cards that you have; it's how you play it. Whatever you have, that's it. You fight with what you have," Osmeña said.

He said he will also continue assigning executive functions to councilors, which he did during his previous terms as mayor.

"The job of the government is to see that the service is provided. That's BOPK. Now, how do you provide that service as quickly as possible, as cheaply as possible, as timely as possible, and as transparently as possible? Whether you're Team Rama or whatever, or whether your Christian, Hindu or Communist, I don't care.  If you're good in peeling potatoes, I'll make you peel the potatoes. Simple like that," he said.

Willingness and capability must come hand in hand, he said.

"What if he is capable but not willing? Don't give it because he won't do it well. What if he is willing but he is not capable. Teach him. The important thing is that he is willing because it includes you are willing to do it. I like people to learn how to think. I like them to choose. (Councilor)Mary Ann (de los Santos) said I want to do the hospital. Good. Then do it," he said.

"I've always been like that from the very first term I became as mayor. Are you willing? Are you capable? I'm a very simple man. People think I'm complicated. They choose. Even if I'm capable of doing the job, I'll let them do it. That's why it's called management. You are not managing a function, if you want to be a good manager. You are managing people," he said.

Asked on the fate of employees hired by Rama, Osmeña said they will be in a "firing squad" once he assumes office on July 1.

"That's not a threat, that's a promise," he said.


One of the major projects pending is the reconstruction of the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC).

Osmeña said councilor Mary Ann Delos Santos will be the "boss."

"Mary Ann is the mayor of the Cebu City as far as the CCMC is concerned.  She is the boss. She will tell me what to do. I will not sign anything on health without her initials. That's the way I delegate naman. Even before, I give you responsibility, siya mobuot ana," he said.

The hospital's old building was torn down after it suffered severe damage during the massive earthquake in Central Visayas in 2013.

However, if the ongoing project will not work out, Osmeña said he has a backup plan in mind.

"We will buy PhilHealth for the poor. At that time, our estimate was P16 million to buy Philhealth for the poor. Our budget for CCMC is P270 million, not for construction but for operation every year," he said.

If the city will provide PhilHealth coverage, the city will not need a hospital, saying that the indigent residents can go to private hospitals and the PhilHealth will pay.

The city can provide all other health services through the health centers.

However, because PhilHealth holders avails of limited services, Osmeña said he will try to negotiate to widen coverage so that each indigent holder can avail of P100,000.

"Pirma nalang ko og cheke. Kon duna kay sakit, kamo mobuot kon unsa nga hospital. Unya kon emergency, pillion pinakaduol. Where is the nearest. That's management. Nag-tan-aw sa mga tao bisan og nagbutang ka og kwarta dinha," he said.

"That's why, ni-surrender gyod ko sa CCMC. You have to find another way. Imagine, we are spending almost P1 million a day? Bisan ang alcohol, dili libre?" he added.

With persistent reports of corruption at the hospital, Osmeña said CCMC employees are out of the equation.

"I don't care about assurance. I'll throw them out of the oceans. That's all. I'm fed up. My obligation is for the people of the City of Cebu. We spend our money so that we can give service to the people. The employees are employees and public servants," he said.

He said he will let De los Santos make the decisions to save the hospital, "but if it can't work it out, I will explode the bomb," he said. — (FREEMAN)

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