Mayor Rama ‘begs’ for investments for Cebu City

·3 min read

CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama is now back in City Hall after “investment begging” in Metro Manila while handing out cash aid to earthquake-affected towns in northern Luzon last week.

During the flag-raising ceremony Monday, Aug. 15, 2022, Rama said he visited several businessmen as well as President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to ask for funding for the completion of the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC).

The mayor also announced that the city government handed over P50 million to 11 local government units affected by the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Luzon last July 27.

“Where did we come from? Manila. What did your mayor do? I went begging. When I went to see the billionaires, what did I emphasize to them? I am here doing an investment begging,” Rama said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

Last Aug. 9, Rama received P200 million worth of funding commitments from business tycoon Manuel Pangilinan and a group of Chinese-Filipino businessmen for the completion of the CCMC.

Cebu City public information officer Cerwin Eviota told reporters that Rama together with his team will hold a press conference on Tuesday, August 16, to inform the public about the results of his investment hopping and his meeting with Marcos Jr.

During his meeting with possible investors, Rama said there was no need to highlight that the city is struggling to look for funds for new projects. He said he only showed them his vision for a Singapore-like city.

Give and take

Rama’s tour was not only about asking for investments; the mayor also visited the devastated towns in Albay Province on Sunday, Aug. 14.

The provincial government of Abra received P25 million, while the cities of Vigan, Candon, Tabuk, San Fernando and Baguio received P3 million each from the Cebu City Government.

The municipalities of Tayum, Bangued, Bucay, Caoayan and Kabayan were also given P2 million each in financial assistance from the Cebu City Government.

Rama expressed his gratitude to the city council for approving the financial assistance, but the mayor admitted that he was dismayed over altercations that took place during the council’s deliberation on the cash aid.

“It (P50 million cash aid) did not come from nowhere. That is why I am a little bit pissed off. Why do you have to quarrel? Why do you have to argue?” said Rama.

Rama explained that the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office had assured him that the City had enough disaster funds for 2022 even if it were to donate P50 million to other local government units.

“That is not my P50 million. That is the heart of the Cebuanos to people out there suffering and their soul has been battered,” he said.

Last Aug. 8, the city’s local finance committee had proposed to increase tax rates in the city after it disclosed that the City had spent more money than its income in the past two years and that as of June 30, 2022, it had more payables than available cash in its coffers.

A week before that, however, on announcing the amount of aid for release to northern Luzon earthquake victims, Rama noted what he called “somewhat of a coincidence” that the City Government had just received P50 million as first annual guaranteed payment from Megawide Construction Corp., its joint venture partner in the redevelopment of the century-old Carbon Public Market.