“MONEY cannot buy conscience.”
This was what Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama told Cebu City barangay captains who attended a gathering of Liberal Party (LP) candidates and allies in Cebu City and province last Friday where cash envelopes containing P5,000 were reportedly distributed as “operational funds” to deliver votes for LP standard-bearer Mar Roxas and his runningmate Leni Robredo.
Rama, who is allied with the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) of Vice President Jejomar Binay, said that while there is nothing new with the distribution of cash assistance to barangay captains, “I wish there should be no such thing as a gathering then, initiated by (a) government agency. It would really leave a bad taste (in the mouth),” he said.
Rama then took a jab at the LP mantra “Daang Matuwid” (straight path).
“They’ve always been claiming ‘Daang Matuwid’ but with that kind of a set-up, that is Daang Matuwad,” he told Cebu Daily News in an interview after his speech at the 19th Annual General Assembly of the Cebu News Workers Multipurpose Cooperative at the Marcelo Fernan Press Center yesterday.
Not to be outwitted, LP Cebu City mayoralty candidate Tomas Osmeña (BO-PK) said Rama should look at himself first before calling the LP names.
“Thousands of people line up at RCBC to get some cash from Rama. Do you know what RCBC stands for? That’s ‘Rama Compound is Binay Country’,” he told CDN over the phone, giggling when sought for comment.
Osmeña added that granting that LP leaders gave P5,000 as operational funds to barangay captains in Cebu City, the act is within the bounds of law.
For his part, Rama said that while the alleged cash distribution by LP was “abominable” and “highly reprehensible,” he would not ask the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to look into it because it would only show that he is affected by it.
“There are many institutions and non-government organizations (NGOs) that are very much in a forward standing of promoting good governance,” Rama said hinting that a complaint, if any, should come from the private sector.
“That (distribution of cash) kind of picture, instituted, initiated by a government agency, it is really abominable, highly reprehensible. But then again at the outset, what else is new in their Daang Matuwid which is practically showing structures, pictures of Daang Matuwad?” Rama said.
And if Rama does not want anyone to think that he is affected by LP’s cash distribution, his arch rival Osmeña is neither affected by Rama’s strong pronouncements against the LP.
“Real vote buying is done by Rama,” Osmeña claimed simply.