ACTING Mayor Michael Rama can now take over the duties of an elected mayor as 30 working days have passed since Mayor Edgardo Labella filed for medical leave.
This was revealed by lawyer Ian Kenneth Lucero, Cebu City director of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021.
Lucero said this was to ensure that the tasks to be performed by a local chief executive would not be neglected.
“For Honorable Vice Mayor Michael Rama, if the temporary incapacity of Mayor Edgardo Labella has already exceeded 30 working days, he can now exercise all the powers and perform all the duties and functions of the city mayor as mandated by law in an acting capacity, that includes the power to appoint, the power to suspend and the power to dismiss employees of the City Government. A vice mayor who is concurrently an acting mayor is actually a quasi-mayor,” Lucero said.
Labella’s family revealed Tuesday that the mayor had been admitted to hospital again over the weekend for pneumonia, which he has battled multiple times this year.
Labella has been on indefinite leave since Oct. 8, but prior to that, Labella had also filed for a leave of absence from Sept. 20 to Oct. 7.
Rama said he would not allow anyone to dictate how he would manage Cebu City Hall as acting mayor due to Labella’s indefinite leave.
Rama said some employees of the Cebu City Government had already called on him to remove some staff now that Rama has the power of the mayor even if he is just acting mayor.
The absence of Labella has already exceeded the 30 working days stipulated in the Local Government Code as the period of absence after which the power to appoint would vest in the acting mayor.
“Don’t teach me how to run City Hall,” Rama said he told those who made such suggestions.
The acting mayor said even if he had already assumed the power of an elected mayor, it did not cross his mind that he was already the mayor as he said he had been elected vice mayor and that his term was still until June 30, 2022.
“I have been very clear not to rock the boat. I have been very clear that until June 30, 2022, this is the term of elected Mayor Edgardo Labella,” the acting mayor said.
Rama directed City Administrator Floro Casas Jr. to notify all City Government departments to attend the flag raising ceremony to be held at City Hall this Monday, Nov. 8, which will be his first call as acting mayor with the full powers of an elected mayor.
The acting mayor said a lot of work awaits him on his assumption of office as there are City Hall seats that need to be filled due to the resignation of those who occupied them, to run in the 2022 elections.
Rama needs to appoint heads for the City Assessor’s Office (CAO), City Legal Office (CLO), Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) and Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor (DWUP), which are now currently managed by assistant department heads.
Former CLO head Rey Gealon and former DWUP head Simeon Romarate are running in the City Council’s south district, while former CAO head Noel Wenceslao is seeking a seat in the north district. Former CCMC administrator Yvonne Cania is a nominee of STL party-list.
Apart from this, Rama will now be the one tasked to sign contracts entered into by the City Government to provide basic services to the Cebuanos.
The DILG’s Lucero explained that when Rama assumes the post of elected mayor, Councilor Donaldo “Dondon” Hontiveros, who got the most number of votes for the City Council in the 2019 elections, will assume the vacant post of elected vice mayor until Labella returns to work.
The mayorship is not new to Rama. He has won election twice as Cebu City mayor, serving from 2010 to 2016. (PAC / CTL)