CEBU CITY, Philippines – Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama said that he was sorry for the “misunderstanding” he has with volunteers of Vice President Leni Robredo who are alleging that they were roadblocked during their campaign event last April 9.
“I would like to apologize. They have a right to their sentiments,” Rama told Rappler in an interview on Tuesday, April 19.
Volunteer group Cebu Youth for Leni (CY4L) claimed in a statement released on Monday, April 18, that Rama gave UniTeam a special treatment by allowing its “Unity Walk” last Sunday, April 17, from Fuente Osmeña Circle to Plaza Independencia, but prohibiting the Leni Robredo volunteers from using the same route earlier.
“We were then told that no political events would be held and no permits would be issued for fun walks involving government-run centers like Plaza Independencia, Fuente Osmeña Circle, and Cebu City Sports Center,” Cebu Youth for Leni said.
“Pinkhimamat was blocked time and again even when we processed the requirements as early as March. We have documentation to support this claim,” they added.
The Pinkhimamat group walk was instead held along Osmeña Boulevard to Southwestern Phinma University. That activity was led by Aika Robredo, oldest daughter of presidential candidate and Vice President Leni Robredo.
The CY4L initially were allowed by the Cebu City Sports Commission (CCSC) to march in the streets but it was later revoked by the mayor himself.
According to CY4L, they had asked for a written copy of Rama’s instructions, but instead of being given one, they were issued a permit by the CCSC under the condition that they would occupy one lane and redirect their route towards Southwestern University (SWU) – PHINMA.
Rama explained that it was all just a misunderstanding. He said he would have approved the permit if Plaza Independencia was not included in the route.
The Robredo volunteers said Rama’s denial of their permit resulted in a lower turnout at the main venue. The CY4L activity included musical performances and an appearance by the vice president’s daughter.
“The Unity Walk did not use the City Sports Center and Plaza Independencia. Ang ilaha kay muagi ra man sila (They were just passing by). In fact, when the UniTeam rally was held they were at the South Road Properties (SRP),” the mayor said.
Rama added he did not allow the use of the Plaza Independencia to avoid a repeat of the incident that happened during the Arat na Cebu concert—a non-political celebration held last March 26. A commotion broke out in the Arat na Cebu concert which caused injuries to people in the crowd.
Rama, who supports the UniTeam tandem of Ferdinand Marcos Jr and Sara Duterte, added that he did not allow UniTeam to use the Plaza Independencia for their rally.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s a better venue because when I ran for mayor against Tommy and we applied for Plaza Independencia and it got disapproved, we were there at Southwestern University,” he said in a mix of English and Cebuano.
The Leni-Kiko grand rally, the second major rally of the tandem in Cebu, will take place on Thursday, April 21, in neighboring Mandaue City. Organizers are hoping for a turnout of at least 250,000 Cebuanos, the estimated capacity of the venue. – Rappler.com