Osmeña to file case vs Rama
Mary Ruth R. Malinao (The Freeman) - December 8, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  Former Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña is set to file tomorrow graft and corruption cases against Vice Mayor Michael Rama and five other individuals before the Office of the Ombudsman.

Osmeña’s legal counsel, lawyer Amando Virgil Ligutan, said the complaint stemmed from the sale of South Road Properties lots to the SM-Ayala consortium and Filinvest Group that Rama approved on August 7, 2015.

Ligutan said Rama's act was illegal since two days before the contract signing, the City Council issued a resolution mandating the mayor not to sign the contracts.

"It is elementary in law that before a City Mayor can sign a contract, disposing of a City Property with another entity, there must be a prior approval by the Sangguniang Panlungsod," said Ligutan.

"There was a resolution allowing him to sign the contracts, but there was a subsequent resolution withdrawing that authority," he added.

Osmeña included in the charges Lucelle Mercado, Diwa Cuevas, Jerone Castillo, Marietta Gumia, and Mark Rossel Solomon, all members of Committee on Awards in 2015.

Ligutan said before the actual bidding was conducted, the council passed a resolution requesting the Committee on Awards to hold in abeyance the bidding process of the properties at the SRP.

However, the Committee on Awards resumed with the bidding process.

Ligutan said Rama and the SM-Ayala consortium knew that what they were doing was illegal.

He cited a supplement agreement between the two parties dated August 7, 2015 documenting their "mutual agreement" on how and when the downpayment would be released, as required under Section 2 of the contract.

He said the supplement agreement states that the payments of SM-Ayala consortium shall only be released on the condition that the "the Sangguniang Panlungsod of the City of Cebu shall have duly approved an ordinance confirming and ratifying the authority of the City of Cebu to execute and deliver the Deed as well as the Deeds of Absolute Sale."

Ligutan said Osmeña is confident that Rama and the members of Committee on Awards will be held accountable for what they did.

He disclosed that the day after the "hasty signing of contracts," the Philippine Competition Act came into effect.

"Because considering the size of the transaction involving billions of pesos, the sale should have been covered by the Philippine Competition Act. That's why Rama and SM-Ayala group made sure that the contracts will be signed the day before it took effect so that the sale would no longer be scrutinized under the Philippine Competition Act," said Ligutan.

The Philippine Competition Act (PCA) or R.A. 10667 is the primary competition policy of the Philippines for promoting and protecting competitive market. It will protect the well-being of consumers and preserve the efficiency of competition in the marketplace.

"We are also accusing them of price fixing. That consortium was entered into precisely for the sole reason so that SM would not outbid Ayala and Ayala would not outbid SM... So they can fix the price, so they can suppress competition, so that they will benefit from the sale, to the disadvantage and detriment of the City of Cebu and its constituents," said Ligutan.

Ligutan said Osmeña is very vocal about this matter.

He added that Osmeña, when he was the mayor, did everything within his power to nullify the sale.

"This is the fight of his life. He is fighting not only for SRP but for the promise, for the potential, that SRP could fund the education of generations of Cebuanos." he said. LPM (FREEMAN)

MICHAEL RAMA TOMAS OSMEñA
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