Cebu News

Rama off to Russia

Caecent No-ot Magsumbol - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — With no court order barring him from travelling abroad, Mayor Mike Rama is bent on traveling to Moscow this week, though no longer as Cebu City’s chief executive following his six-month preventive suspension.

Rama confirmed to The Freeman that he has been invited to an event in Moscow but he could not provide details about the trip, saying City Councilor Jocelyn Pesquera, Cebu City Tourism Commission head, and Sister City Program Executive Director Karla Henry, who are both joining him, are the ones who know.

Rama said the trip is a long-standing invitation and was made way before the preventive suspension order from the Office of the Ombudsman.

“Dugay na man na…When I was not yet being suspended, that’s already being organized...Dugay na na uy! That is an offshoot of our trip to Vladivostok (city, also in Russia, last year),” he said.

“It’s something quite good coz it’s a continuing relationship anchored upon by the sisterhood between the city of Cebu and Vladivostok,” Rama said.

He said that prior to his recent suspension, the Department of Interior and Local Government have already given him the authority to travel.

This time, he would not be officially functioning as a mayor as a private individual.

As of this writing, though, Rama’s staff was still finalizing all the requirements, to avoid any complications.

“In fact, it took a long time for DILG to give an authority (to travel). Anyhow, naabot ang authority, na suspended ko. However, akong gi-convert para dili sila ma insulted. I’m going there just an employee of City Hall or in a private capacity. Ila pa ng gitrabaho ang requirements just in case, para dili ma technical, kanang maabot ta’g unnecessary embarrassment,” Rama added.

Rama said his staff is already working on sorting out the technicalities of his trip while stressing that he would not be using any government funds for it.

He likewise emphasized that the preventive suspension order did not bar him from travelling abroad.

“Bear in mind nga naa tay Constitutional right to travel, okay? Plus, wala man ‘tay court order not to travel,” the mayor said.

Rama said he is pushing through with the travel in response to the invitation of his "friends" in Russia.

Based on information available on the internet, an event happening in Moscow on May 22 to 25 is the “Arch Moscow XXIX International Exhibition-Forum of Architecture and Design” at the Gostiny Dvor Complex.

The “Arch Moscow”, as the event’s website stated, is a “communication platform that brings leading international and Russian architecture and design bureaus, developers, manufacturing companies and distributors of exclusive materials together”.

In a separate interview, Pesquerra confirmed that Rama would join them in the weeklong trip in his private capacity, but said the details of what events they would be attending is with Henry, who did not respond to The Freeman as of press time.

Pesquerra also confirmed that there is also a separate delegation from Cebu City to Vladivostok late next month and it would be headed by City Councilor Jaypee Labella.

Gov. Gwen Garcia has also been reportedly scheduled to fly to Russia on June 1 to 7, chiefly for Cebu Province’s sister-city, St. Petersburg, for an “International Economic Forum”.

Early this year, the Capitol’s official news network said the governor would open economic discussions and renew with St. Petersburg its sisterhood pact that was left unrenewed when she left office in 2013.


Meanwhile, related to Rama’s preventive suspension, Baguio City Mayor Benjie Magalong has also conveyed his sympathy and support for him.

“In the pursuit of fairness and following the rule of law, I express my sympathy and support to Mayor Michael L. Rama during this challenging time in his administration,” Mayor Magalong said.

Magalong said he had personally witnessed Mayor Rama's “skillful leadership as the current President of the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) and have seen his commitment and dedication in serving the people of Cebu City with their best interest in mind and for the common good”.

“He is a man of character… In his many years in public service, Mayor Rama has demonstrated his management capabilities to address crises of all sorts. I firmly believe that he will manage this situation with humility and accountability,” Magalong went on saying.

Earlier, Rama also received expressions of support from fellow mayors who are also members of the LCP, as well as barangays officials and the SK officials here. /RHM(CEBU NEWS)

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