Suspension order vs Cebu City mayor, 13 others served

CEBU CITY, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) in Central Visayas served on Tuesday, May 17, the 6-month suspension order against incumbent Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, Vice Mayor Edgar Labella, and 12 councilors for "abuse of authority."

The suspension stemmed from the release of P20,000 calamity assistance to city hall officials and employees in 2013 after the 7.2 magnitude earthquake and Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) hit Cebu. It was the Office of the President who signed the order.

Mayor Rama was not in his office when the order was served Tuesday morning by DILG-Central Visayas Director Rene Burdeos and other officials. A copy of the suspension order was posted on the Office of the City Mayor as no one received it.

Labella, for his part, arrived at his office around noon Tuesday. He said he will abide by the suspension order but will question it in court.

"It has a major flaw," he said.

He added that he will return all vehicles issued to him and he will no longer go inside the Vice Mayor's Office.

"I will work at my law firm while serving the suspension order," he said.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has allowed the DILG to implement the suspension order against Rama, Labella, Councilors Alvin Dizon, Noel Wenceslao, Dave Tumulak, Hanz Abella, Gerardo Carillo, Nestor Archival Sr., Mary Ann delos Santos, Sisinio Andales, Alvin Arcilla, Roberto Cabarrubias, Nida Cabrera, and Eugenio Gabuya Jr.

The DILG had moved previously to implement the suspension during the campaign period, but could not due to an election ban on suspensions. The ban is in effect until June 8.

Not included in the case were councilors Margot Osmeña, Leah Japson, Richard Osmeña, and James Cuenco.

Margot Osmeña and Japson abstained from voting on the supplemental budget that appropriated P83.5 million for the financial assistance of 4,200 officials and workers and city hall, while Richard Osmeña and Cuenco were absent when the decision was made.

This means Rama, Labella, and the councilors involved would not be allowed to serve the rest of their term, which officially ends on June 30.

With the suspension, Margot Osmeña, wife of mayor-elect Tomas Osmeña, will serve as acting mayor, while Cuenco will be the acting vice mayor.

DILG-Central Visayas legal officer Aiza Nogra asked the Cebu City officials to respect the suspension order, saying it's a legal order. – Rappler.com

This article is republished under Rappler's content sharing agreement with theSunStar network in the coverage of the 2016 national and local elections.