Generals, ex-national officials advise Rama on city matters

·3 min read

CEBU City Mayor Michael “Mike” Rama has continued his enlistment of former national government officials to help achieve his Singapore-like vision for the city.

Rama introduced former senator Franklin Drilon and former Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) secretary Rogelio Singson as the new members of the city advisory council Monday, Sept. 19, 2022.

“Today, we have gentlemen of distinction... The legend, I call him (Drilon) the legend, and there are two, I call them our secretary-like,” said Rama.

Former environment secretary Roy Cimatu, who was also recruited by Rama to be the Cebu City Government’s consultant for environmental matters, also joined the press conference held at the Social Hall of the City Hall.

Rama had also previously appointed retired Philippine National Police chief Debold Sinas to the advisory council.

Retired Armed Forces of the Philippines Gen. Melquiades Feliciano has also joined the team, but Rama said Sinas and Feliciano were not able to join the press conference because of important matters in Manila.

The advisory council will help the City Government address issues such as the perennial problem of flooding during downpours.

Drilon, who served as Senate president for several terms, acknowledged that there is much work to be done in Cebu City, especially on the City Government’s campaign to reclaim the three-meter easement of major waterways in the city.

The former senator said unless the City Government can build houses for the relocation of the 16,000 informal settlers living within the three-meter easement zones, the project of the mayor would be difficult to achieve.

“Make no mistake about it, unless we are able to provide housing to the 16,000 informal settlers, it is difficult to move the project of the mayor,” said Drilon.

Drilon, who is a native of Iloilo in Western Visayas, added that he is optimistic that Cebu City has the potential and ability to raise funds that can be appropriated for housing projects.

According to the Senate Electoral Tribunal’s website, Drilon has “led several clean-up drives for the polluted and dying Iloilo River, and allocated funds to build the Iloilo River Esplanade.”

Do it once

For his part, Singson said the issue of illegal settlers in the city’s waterways should be addressed now to mitigate the risk when there is a swelling of the rivers.

“If we do not address the waterways, taon-taon sila yong sasagupa-in mo. Taon-taon sila ang hahanapan mo ng (every year, they’ll be the ones you’ll clash with. Every year, you’ll have to look for) resettlement every time that river overflows... Do it once, and do it right,” said Singson.

The former DPWH secretary added that many private corporations are keen to provide socialized housing for the government and this is a possible solution that the City Government could look into.

When asked why they accepted the role, Drilon and Singson said they are longtime friends of Rama.

Aside from being friends for many decades already, Drilon said he saw the “kind of leadership” that Rama has and the former senator said he was honored to have been invited by Rama.