Cebu News

Cebu Bus Rapid Transit issue: Rama to Gwen: Stop meddling

Caecent No-ot Magsumbol, Iris Hazel Mascardo - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines —  “Enough is enough.”

This was the message of Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama to Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia after she issued a memorandum stopping the civil works of the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (CBRT) project in front of the Capitol.

Governor Garcia’s memorandum was followed by Vice Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia’s move pushing for a resolution that calls for the project’s halt.

Rama, in an online interview yesterday with the Sugboanon Channel, expressed his displeasure with Vice Mayor Garcia’s move to stop the BRT's civil works after the latter submitted a resolution and delivered a privilege speech to express concern over the work in front of the Capitol.

According to Rama, he expressed his displeasure during their party meeting the same day that Garcia delivered his speech.

“Wa ko mo uyon sa privilege speech,” said the mayor, adding that the vice mayor was present during their meeting.

Rama also said that Governor Garcia should stop meddling with the CBRT project. He stressed that although the governor’s memo has been directly addressed to BRT team, Cebu City is directly attached to the project.

Earlier this week, Governor Garcia issued a memorandum ordering the halt of civil works related to the CBRT along Osmeña Blvd to protect heritage sites in the area.

“Samot ng gobernador, buhat-buhat og memo…that’s enough. Enough is enough,” he said.

Rama also took note of what transpired during the events of the Sinulog 2024, where the routes were changed along N. Bacalso hours before the procession.

“Utong ko…pero karon wa nay utongay,” said Rama.

In line with this, he had instructed in advance the Sinulog 2025 organizers to already prepare without the province.

Further, Rama said that since Cebu City is considered a highly-urbanized city, its head is the elected mayor whose role, he emphasized, is different from that of the governor.

“Unsay role sa governor? Duha rana, makig amigo or makig away? Mao na akong hagit, kay di man mahimo og buko-bukohon ta,” he said.

Rama said that he considers Vice Mayor Garcia’s move as a stab in the back since he wasn’t informed about it first.

“Ga-meeting diay sila (VM and Capitol), treachery na para nako, wa gani na gisulti sa meeting gabii,” he said.

Vice Mayor Garcia, in his resolution, pushed to stop the ongoing BRT construction along the stretch of Osmeña Boulevard as it is a “photobomber in the making.”

He noted the work should be stopped until a complimentary design is submitted.

In line with this, he then raised the motion to ask the Office of the Building Official (OBO) to issue a cease-and-desist order against the contractor of the building of the bus station until and unless “a better alternative” design is submitted to the National Commission on Culture and Arts, the Cebu City Cultural Historical Affairs Commission (CHA), and the city council.

He, likewise, asked CHAC to explore with its counterpart in the Province of Cebu alternatives, including a more complimentary design, provided that it conforms with existing laws and policies.

Garcia: it is strictly professional

In a separate interview, Vice Mayor Garcia told the media that his resolution has nothing against the mayor and said that “it is strictly professionals”

According to the vice mayor, he had discussed the matter with the mayor before his privilege speech, saying that Rama wanted the issue brought up to CHAC to make a stand. CHAC, according to Vice Mayor Garcia, would forward its position to the mayor, so the mayor can act on it.

“It is true nga nag-istorya mi before that, before ko nag-privilege speech pero I saw it fit nga di na ni makahuwat pa og kaning action coming from the executive, I mean di nata kahuwat ba this would drag longer kay makita naman gud nimo nga naay naman guy poste na silver nga tua didto,” said Vice Mayor Garcia referring to the construction of the bus stop.

Vice Mayor Garcia said it was high time for him to make a statement to protect the Capitol as a heritage adding that he and the mayor shared the same ideology.

He also said that the mayor may have been “emotional” about the council’s stance but was not “mad.”

Vice Mayor Garcia said that what happened was strictly professional standpoints from the perspective of two branches that have different functions - executive and legislative.

He added it is no longer new that the council and the mayor have different opinions on some issues.

“This is very normal gyud, this strictly professional, and we have shown time and time again that the council is independent and we have our own minds, and we think by ourselves, and we have the same interest which is the interest of the city of Cebu,” he said.

Further, he said that their opposing stands will not change their personal and working relationship. “It does not break our relationship as party mates and more importantly as friends,” the vice mayor said.

Other Areas

Meanwhile, CBRT project manager Engr. Norvin Imbong, in an interview with The Freeman, said with the latest issue concerning the construction of a station near the Capitol area, construction works are now being focused in other areas.

There are three things supposedly being worked on at the Capitol area: the station, drainage, and street lights.

After learning of the cease and desist order from the Capitol, Imbong said they wanted to ask for some consideration.

“Nananghid unta mi to work on the sidewalk, street lighting kay ngitngit naman dihang dapita. However, kay nausab naman pud and tenor, murag ang entire stretch naman ang gihisgutan (from the side of the Cebu City Council), ni refrain na lang mi,” said Imbong.

While this has not yet been settled, they will be working in other areas that are not being questioned.

“Ari na lang sa mig laing area mo-trabaho para dili masayang ang oras,” Imbong said while stating, there has been so much delay on the project already.

Imbong said he understands the sentiments concerning the Capitol right now, but also agrees with City Councilor Joy Young who said that the City Council did not do its homework as it only brought up the issue now when the construction, at least for phase 1 of the CBRT project, is almost done.

“Sakto kaayo na nga punto. During sa time nga wa pa ning construction, nag present na mi ani sa Cebu Historical, unsa na na office, nangayo mis mga historical sites, wala sila. Inig present nimo, general biya na. Wala man pud mi pangutan-a unsay inyong plan B? Karon nga naa na, ingnan mi na wa ni submit. Wala man pud mo mangayo, wala mi kabalo unsay inyong requirement,” said Imbong.

“Naa mi dokumento nga nag present gyud mi ana. Taud-taud na, mga 2019 siguro or 2020 ba,” Imbong said.

Imbong also said that they would have complied if they were only told earlier of any requirement concerning heritage, among others.

“So karon, padayon gihapon, hangtud ma-settle na na nga area,” Imbong added while waiting for the DOTr Central office to respond to the issue. - ATO (CEBU NEWS)

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