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Cebu News

DILG investigates Osmeña for stripping mayor’s office

Odessa O. Leyson - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) is set to investigate former Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña for stripping the mayor’s office of all its facilities and fixtures before turning it over to his successor.

DILG spokesperson Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said that Osmena’s action could have been done in bad faith and could affect delivery of public services to the constituents of Cebu City.

Osmeña had stripped off the mayor’s office of everything, from the ceiling to floor tiles, rendering the office “unusable and completely bare,” three days before newly-proclaimed Mayor Edgardo Labella assumed office.

Malaya said that while Osmeña could have filed a claim for indemnification over the immovable improvements he introduced to the office, his act of clearing the whole office could expose him to legal action by the government.

“But to strip the mayor’s office of everything is strange, uncalled for, and could expose the mayor to legal action for violation of various laws including RA 3019 for causing injury to the government,” Malaya said.

Earlier reports said that Osmeña defended his move of stripping down the office, claiming that he used his personal money and monetary donations to renovate the office.

On the other hand, Mayor Edgardo Labella said that he already informed city lawyers to look into the matter because for him removing immovable properties is a clear destruction of government properties.

“I do not want to take personal action on that, in the first place this is a government property, this is city hall so I directed the city legal officer to take appropriate action on the matter,” Labella told reporters in a press conference yesterday.

He added that the mayor’s office is a government building that is owned by the people of the City of Cebu stressing that, “we used tax payers’ money here, so I think that makes it a very serious (matter).”

Last Thursday evening, at least 27 personnel from a construction firm cleared and removed the personal properties of Osmeña, which cost P2 million.

The former mayor claimed, through a certification from the Department of General Services (DGS) that shelves, light and plumbing fixtures, partitions and door, ceiling and floor works are not owned by the city government but are his personal properties.

The FREEMAN tried to get the statement of City Attorney Rey Gealon but he was not available as of press time.

Gealon earlier said that what Osmeña did was a manifestation of “malicious demolition,” adding the former should have preserved its look.

For the meantime, Labella is holding office at the vice mayor’s office to accommodate the city’s constituents and to perform his duties as mayor.

“I have only been given one week here, after one week I’m looking for another place where I can occupy well, that office there in the ground floor will be renovated,” he said.

After a week, he will transfer at the Office of the Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCA) located on the ground floor of the executive building.

He will hold permanent office at the space adjacent to OSCA, once renovations are completed.

“Well, that office should have been repainted and renovated but we do not have the resources, unlike him before, he had P2 million just to have that repainted,” Labella said. — Report from Philippine Star News Service

TOMAS OSMEñA

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