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Cebu News

Ramirez: The mayor who 'put Medellin on the map'

John M. Destacamento - The Freeman
Ramirez: The mayor who 'put Medellin on the map'
A househelp of former Medellin Mayor Ricardo Ramirez sheds tears as she wipes a framed photo of her boss while preparing the slain mayor's wake at his house in Medellin town, north Cebu.
ALDO NELBERT BANAYNAL

CEBU, Philippines — Former Medellin mayor and outgoing municipal councilor Ricardo “Ricky” Ramirez may have died in a cold murder late Monday night inside the hospital he was staying, but to some residents and supporters, his legacy will live on.

“It was in 2007 when I temporarily moved to Cebu City to enroll in college. During that time, when you tell people you're from Medellin, they would either wonder where in the country that is or automatically assume that it is a part of Bogo or Daanbantayan,” Manuel Alexes Tan, a teacher at Almacen-Torrevillas Memorial National High School in Barangay Lamintak Norte, wrote in tribute to the slain town official.

“Former Mayor Ricky Ramirez solved that dilemma. A few years ago, he transformed Medellin into a vibrant town and made Medellin a household name in the region because of tourism,” Tan’s post read.

Under Ramirez’s leadership, the municipal government embarked on an intensive campaign to promote the town’s gems – beaches, caves, and other attractions – which lay hidden and untapped all those years.

Among its prized attractions is the so-called Funtastic Island, a beach resort on Gibitngil, an island-barangay situated 20 minutes away by boat from the mainland. The resort features colorful huts perched on rock formations, as well as other activities like kayaking, ziplining, and platform diving.

In Barangay Kawit, which is known for its clear waters and white sands, the number of beach resorts and tourism establishments more than doubled during the incumbency of Ramirez.

In Barangay Caputatan Norte, more activities for adrenaline junkies were also offered such as sky biking, the Tarzan jump, and ziplining.

Giles Anthony Villamor, who used to be the town’s municipal tourism officer, said these new attractions led to a deluge of tourists, in turn serving as an additional source of revenue for the municipality that had, in the past, largely depended on sugarcane plantation.

In 2014, the Department of Tourism listed the town was one of the top 10 most visited local government units in Central Visayas, despite it being ravaged by super typhoon Yolanda the year earlier.

Villamor describes Ramirez as “a true leader who brought Medellin to greater heights.”

“A person who truly did service above self and showed us that Medellin is indeed FUNtastic. A father who unleashed my potentials and gave me the opportunity to reach higher grounds,” he wrote in a post to his Facebook account on Tuesday.

Ramirez’s career as a government servant spans about two and a half decades. He was first elected as town councilor in 1992, and later elected vice mayor in 1998.

After serving three full terms as vice mayor, he ran and won as mayor in 2007, holding the position for three full terms until 2016. After that, he ran and won another term as town councilor.

His term is supposed to end this month. He did not run for any public office in the midterm elections in May.

Late evening Monday, armed men barged inside Bogo-Medellin Medical Center in Barangay Luy-a where Ramirez had been staying under hospital arrest. After shots rang, Ramirez would be found dead with multiple gunshot wounds inside his quarter’s bathroom.

He was arrested in July 2017 for alleged possession of unlicensed firearms but his camp had requested the court for a hospital detention after he had complained of chest pains and high blood pressure.

Former Police Regional Office-7 director Jose Mario Espino once linked Ramirez to the illegal drug trade, although no formal case was filed against him for the allegation.

Ramirez is survived by his wife Chay and children Maitina, Cacai, Dicky, and PJ.

CEBU

MEDELLIN

RICARDO RAMIREZ

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