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Cebu News

Tomas hits Rama

Caecent No-ot Magsumbol - The Freeman
Tomas hits Rama
Mayor Tomas Osmeña

CEBU, Philippines — It’s still the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections that’s coming up, but former Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña already expressed his support to whoever would run against current mayor Michael Rama in the next elections.

He said he would even choose his own dog over his former ally if his dog would decide to run for mayor.

Osmeña broke his months of silence after the Office of the Ombudsman dropped the administrative and criminal complaints filed against him and a few former and current Cebu City Government officials along with private respondents.

The complaints were filed over the city government’s joint venture agreement (JVA) for the development of an integrated resort at a portion of the South Road Properties (SRP) where NuStar Resort and Casino now stands.

In a Jan. 25, 2023 joint resolution released only recently, Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer II Rhyan Pañales cited lack of probable cause for the dismissal of the criminal complaint filed by self-proclaimed whistle-blower Crisologo Saavedra, Jr.

BRT, politics

Yesterday, Osmeña called a press conference, which he has not done for quite a time, to discuss, among others, the dismissal, the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (CBRT), and politics.

Osmeña, though said, the dismissal is not about vindication for him but a chance to prevent the people from being misled that the JVA with the Gokongwei group was disadvantageous to the City.

“I’m not interested in clearing my name.... I’m protecting the city…They did, in their power, to stop this project,” he said.

On his statement that he would not support Rama, the former three-term mayor said he learned his lessons with Rama and no reconciliation is possible.

“He said I’m his mentor, he has not learned anything,” Osmeña   said.

He said that on a scale of one to 10 with 10 as the highest, he is giving Rama a negative three score.

“I don’t have much faith in the guy…to tell you frankly. He’s just looking for an alibi who to blame…. Clearly, he cannot do it himself. He already screwed up so many things. I think he should not be there,” Osmeña said.

He, however, did not give a categorical answer when asked if he would support a "Garcia" going against Rama in the next elections.

Instead, the former mayor said that if it is his dog running against Rama, he would choose the animal over the incumbent mayor.

“I’ll make that very clear.... Anyone, bisan pa'g akong iro ang padaganon…I’m not joking. I’d rather vote for my dog than Mike Rama. I’ll tell you why; kong iro di mangawat,” Osmeña said.

He said, though, that he would not be pushing for anyone anymore to run for the next mayor under the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK), which he founded and still leads.

“It’s up to them ….BOPK is not here to be served. BOPK is here to serve the people…The people deserve others,” Osmeña said.

He also said that he was no longer seeking to return to the City Hall.

“I used all my efforts to protect the interest of the city,” he said, adding that all he wanted was for the Cebuanos' lives to be better. He said he is not even after leaving behind a legacy for people to remember him by.

“I’ts not important…The only thing that comes to mind, is Mike Rama must go..He must go..Anyone who would run against him, I will support,” he said.

Sought for his comment, Rama declined to issue any statement, except by saying "let the people decide."

Rama is set to return to Manila next week to follow up matters concerning projects in Cebu City, including the CBRT.

Like Osmeña, Rama is also pushing for the adoption of the original BRT route, as planned during Osmeña's term as mayor. He had said he wanted Osmeña and Paul Villarete, the former mayor's then city planning officer, to be on board, if they were willing.

Commenting on the project, Osmeña said he was not pro- or anti-BRT, but simply "pro-people, pro-poor."

That is why, he said, he was also fighting to include the Bulacao area and Talamban area in the project, as the CBRT was originally intended.

He said that a long time has been spent on the project already, but it was only him, not even the Senate, who managed to get the P16-billion funding for it.

The former mayor hoped that the project would serve its purpose of alleviating the transportation woes of the Cebuanos and make their lives better.

Also, expounding on the dismissed complaints, Osmeña explained that the JVA was one-of-a-kind.

“The city does not get a 10-percent share of the profits, the city gets 10 percent of the gross revenue rentals.... What is the difference? Profit is after expenses…that is why you call it ginansya..Percentage of gross rentals is like VAT, 10 percent of whatever they collect, whether they make a profit or not. That’s the difference,” he said.

Osmeña also said that while lease is free for the first eight years of the 50-year deal, the City and the Cebuanos benefited from the JVA right away because as the construction proceeded, materials were purchased and Cebuanos got jobs, boosting the local economy.

He added that as the resort opened, tenants also paid the necessary permits and taxes, boosting the City's revenues.

“They are too short-sighted to see that,” Osmeña said.

Among those he discussed with the Cebu media were the development of Pond A of the SRP; the Carbon Market development project, which he said is disadvantageous to the people of Cebu; and the Cebu City Medical Center that remains unfinished to this day. — (FREEMAN)

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