CEBU CITY, Philippines – Two days before her inauguration, Vice President-elect Leni Robredo flew to Cebu City to administer the oath to incoming Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña and members of BOPK, the local alliance affiliated with the Liberal Party (LP).
The program started almost an hour late due to Robredo’s flight delay and traffic from Lapu-Lapu City to the Cebu City Sports Center.
“Tommy never abandoned me,” Robredo said in Filipino during her address after the ceremony.
She also said that Cebu was one of the areas that supported her early in her vice presidential bid, when she ranked low in the pre-election surveys. “Cebu was already one of the areas that already put their trust in me even when I was still at 1%,” Robredo told the hundreds of attendees at the Cebu City event.
Osmeña’s inauguration was Robredo’s first public appearance in Cebu after winning as vice president. Weeks before, she was in the province for a private visit to Oslob with her daughters.
Osmeña had previously served as mayor from 1988 to 1995, and again from 2001 to 2010.
He said that his friendship with Jesse Robredo, the late interior secretary and Robredo’s husband, and the family, was his main reason for requesting Robredo to administer his oath of office.
“Even when I was still just running for Congress and had no money nor any idea how to run a campaign, Tommy and Margot were there for me,” Robredo, for her part, said when she first decided to run for office.
“I’m really thankful to Cebuanos because the number of votes I got here was tremendous,” Robredo told reporters after the local inauguration.
In the last election, Robredo got over 807,000 votes in Cebu. The province is an LP stronghold as most of its local officials were members or were allied with the ruling party before the last election.
Robredo’s running mate, Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, who was present at the inauguration, lost in the province with 586,000 votes to Duterte’s 1.1 million votes.
Robredo also thanked others outside the LP in Cebu who helped her campaign. “I am not just grateful to them, but to all of you here who helped me win,” she said.
“It’s time to make Cebu number one again,” Osmeña told attendees at his inauguration. There were no tickets or invites for the event.
In his inaugural address, Osmeña said that Cebu City under his predecessor and his former vice mayor Mike Rama incurred a P6.2-billion deficit. He cited alleged anomalous city deals made under Rama’s watch, which he vowed to investigate.
He also hit his predecessor for allegedly allowing Cebu to become the “murder capital of the country.”
“I don’t know how it happened,” Osmeña said.
Osmeña issued a threat against drug dealers operating in his city. “Are you afraid of Duterte? You should be afraid of June 30.”
Only days after the elections, Osmeña had already offered authorities a P50,000-reward for every drug pusher killed in the line of duty.
A day before the inauguration, hundreds attended the funeral of Jeffrey “Jaguar” Diaz, said to be Central Visayas’ top drug lord. He was killed in police operations in Las Piñas, where Osmeña alleged Diaz was setting up a new base for his drug operations.
Aside from Roxas and Robredo, other LP members who attended the inauguration were Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III, Cebu City 1st District Representative Raul Del Mar, and acting mayor Margarita “Margot” Osmeña.
After the ceremony, a thanksgiving mass was held for Robredo at the Sacred Heart Church. – Rappler.com