Osmeña says he was prevented from restoring office to ‘2016 state’

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Former Cebu City mayor Tomas Osmeña said in a letter released on Tuesday, July 23, that he was in the process of restoring his office to its 2016 state when the lawyers of new Mayor Edgardo Labella stopped him. 


“So as not to cause inconvenience during work hours, the work was scheduled to be done nighttime starting June 27, 2019,” Osmeña wrote in the letter dated July 18.

The letter continued: “The work was supposed to continue the next day. However, your lawyers Rey Gealon and Floro Casas Jr interfered on June 29, 2019. They also brought elements of the Philippine National Police to the office. This caused the unfinished work to stop.”

Osmeña sent a letter to Labella to explain the sorry state of the city mayor's office shortly before turning it over to the new administration.

The former mayor said he was only addressing the situation now because he was abroad, and also because he waited for the "spectacle" to simmer down.

Osmeña made headlines in June when it was discovered he stripped his office bare, down to the tiles, days before turning it over to his rival in the last election. (READ: LOOK: Osmeña strips mayor’s office bare before stepping down)

All of the office fixtures, furniture, cabinets, toilet bowl, down to the tiles were removed from his office.

Osmeña explained to Rappler shortly after the incident that he spent P2 million of his personal money when he assumed office in 2016 after defeating Michael Rama.

“It is very unusual for an outgoing mayor to strip his office, but it is equally rare for the city council to reject my request to fix the mayor’s office,” Osmeña told Rappler in a text message, referring to when he assumed office 3 years ago.

“So I spent my personal money with some friends so I can have a functional office,” Osmeña added. “I did that for Cebu, not the next guy.”

The DILG said in a statement on July 3, that they would investigate the incident and consider filing graft and corruption charges against Osmeña.

In his letter, the former mayor said the incident became a “media spectacle” and he wrote the letter to ask Labella to allow his contractor to finish work in restoring the office to what it was in 2016.

“As the media spectacle is now over, and as I have just returned to Cebu City from abroad, I am writing this letter to ask you to allow my contractor to continue with the restoration of the office to its 2016 condition,” Osmeña said.

Labella has not yet responded to Rappler’s request for comment on the matter. – Rappler.com

Ryan Macasero

Ryan covers Cebu and the Visayas for Rappler. He covers all news in the region, but is particularly interested in people stories, development issues and local policy making.