Labangon chief eyes 'peace' with Rama

DESPITE his role in the suspension of Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama in 2015, Barangay Labangon chief Victor Buendia said he wants to make peace with the mayor.

In an interview with SunStar Cebu’s Kumusta Kap program on Nov. 9, 2022, Buendia said that he now supports Rama’s vision of making a Singapore-like Cebu City.

Buendia admitted that he saw a big change in Rama after the latter set aside politics and focused instead on his legacy through projects.

“He has focused on his legacy [projects] for Cebu. I hope he will survive on that part and he will pursue his [vision] for the sake of Cebu City,” he said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

Among Rama’s projects that were already implemented in line with his vision is the ongoing relocation of settlers sitting within the three-meter easement zone of the rivers, safekeeping of street dwellers, redevelopment of Carbon Public Market, including the Freedom Park, and the collecting of trash from creeks to prevent flooding during downpour.

Buendia added that he has already forgotten the conflict between him and the mayor.

“It doesn’t mean nga nagkasinabot na mi ni Mayor Mike. Actually, if you’re a leader and if you do good for Cebu and the people of Cebu, I will always admire you,” Buendia said.

Suspensions

Buendia, who is allied with Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan, sued Rama before the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) in 2014, citing that the latter committed “grave abuse of authority, grave misconduct, and oppression” when he ordered the demolition of a center island and a street lighting project on Katipunan St.

In 2015, then Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. signed an order for the DILG to implement a 60-day preventive suspension order against Rama.

A year after Rama was suspended, the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas also suspended Buendia and three other officials because of alleged oppression.

The suspension order derived from the administrative complaint filed by Pepito Pepito against them, after the barangay officials evicted him and demolished his stall in Labangon Public Market in 2014.

The anti-graft office directed Rama to implement the order.

The village chief said that as his way of support for Rama, he urged the Barangay Council to issue resolutions in support of the mayor’s programs and projects.

“I urged my council to actually make a barangay resolution to adopt his ordinance in support of the legacy that he implemented for Cebu City,” added Buendia.

According to Buendia, political will is one of the most crucial elements in carrying out the mayor’s vision, such as the strict implementation of the law like what Singapore did.

“Even if we don’t look like Singapore, at least we can stop the indiscriminate throwing of garbage. We have to be very strict on that and arrest violators and penalize them. We will see if we can do that. Then the next step is to clean the river,” he said.

“The problem with our political system is that we change mayors every three years. If the mayor is reelected, then he can continue his projects... if he loses in the election, his projects might be stopped by his successor,” Buendia said in Cebuano. (BBT / TPT)