MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang ordered a 60-day preventive suspension of Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama for his alleged culpable violation of the Constitution, grave abuse of authority, grave misconduct, and oppression.
In a statement on Wednesday, December 9, the Department of the Interior and Local Government said the Office of the President ordered Rama’s suspension on December 2 through Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr.
Barangay Labangon chairperson Victor Buendia accused Rama in a 2014 administrative complaint of unlawfully ordering the demolition of the barangay’s center island and street lighting project.
According to Rama’s suspension order, street lights and center islands “are not nuisances per se since they are not, in themselves, a menace to public health or safety.”
“Indeed, they are usually constructed precisely to enhance the safety of pedestrians and the motoring public. Not being nuisances per se, such structures could only have been lawfully demolished, if at all, through the appropriate proceedings in court,” the document added.
Rama was a member of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) until he joined the opposition party United Nationalist Alliance of Vice President Jejomar Binay in 2012. Rama is UNA’s regional coordinator in Cebu as well.
UNA spokesperson Mon Ilagan called Rama’s suspension as “politically charged” intended to harass LP’s political adversaries in Cebu for the 2016 elections.
“You can already smell the stench of political harassment and deceit no matter how much they deodorize and justify the reason for Mayor Rama’s suspension,” said Ilagan.
“Halatang politikal ang motibo dito (It’s obvious there is a political motive here), and likely designed to send a strong message especially when it targets influential local leaders of UNA who are preparing the groundwork for the party,” Ilagan said.
He added the Palace ordered Rama’s suspension to “neutralize” the opposition party in Cebu so Rama would not be able to rally support for Binay in the region.
Cebu is a vote-rich province, with over 2.5 million registered voters during the 2013 senatorial elections. It has the biggest voting population outside the National Capital Region.
The UNA spokesperson likened Rama’s suspension to that of Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr, who has been dismissed and barred from holding public office by the Ombudsman.
“Tulad ito ng nangyari kay Makati Mayor Junjun Binay at iba pang mga taga-oposisyon, iniisa-isa na ng administrasyon ang mga balakid sa lokal lalung-lalo na isa sa mga matitibay at matatag na lider ng UNA si Mayor Rama sa lalawigan ng Cebu,” Ilagan said.
(This is similar to what happened to Makati Mayor Junjun Binay and other members of the opposition. The administration is removing them from the race one-by-one, especially because Mayor Ramo is among the strongest leaders in Cebu.). – Rappler.com
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