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Rama, 4 others face graft raps over ‘garbage’ services

By: Delta Dyrecka Letigio March 05,2020 - 04:05 PM

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama attends a scheduled public hearing on Wednesday, March 4, 2020, at the Cebu City Council session hall. | CDN Digital Gerard Francisco

Vice Mayor Michael Rama is facing graft and corruption charges for procuring the garbage services of a waste disposal firm without a bidding. | CDN Digital Gerard Francisco

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Former Cebu City mayor, now Vice Mayor Michael Rama and four former members of the Bids and Awards Committee are facing charges of graft and corruption at the Sandiganbayan for procuring waste disposal services in 2015. 

In a decision promulgated by the Office of the Ombudsman to the Visayas on December 2019, they found probable cause to indict Rama and former BAC members Ester Concha, Rolando Ardosa, Conrado Ordesta and Collin Rosell. 

Former Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, the complainant of the case, also filed the same charges against former BAC members Belinda Navascues and Dionysio Gualiza, but the cases were dismissed for lack of probable cause for Navascues and for apparent death for Gualiza. 

Criminal charges at Sandigan

Lawyer Amando Virgil Ligutan, Osmeña’s legal counsel, said the indictment from the Ombudsman would mean that Rama and the four BAC would be facing criminal charges in the Sandiganbayan. 

If found guilty, they might face imprisonment or perpetual disqualification from the holding office.

In 2015, Rama procured waste disposal services to Asian Energy System Corporation (AESC) through direct contracting twice amounting to a total of P25 million. 

Osmeña argued that such services should have been bid out because there were many other service providers capable of doing waste disposal services. 

Arias doctrine

In his affidavit, Rama claimed that he was using the Arias doctrine, which stated that a local chief executive would have the prerogative to follow the recommendation of his or her subordinates. 

However, the Ombudsman ruled that such doctrine could not be applied to waste disposal services, when many candidates were available to do the services. 

“Mayor Osmeña’s message is this: To those working in the administration, make sure everything you do is aboveboard. They should not commit illegal acts. Mayor Osmeña is watching, he will do everything to protect public funds,” said Ligutan in a phone interview. 

In a separate phone interview, Rama entrusted the development of the case to his lawyers, whom he said were preparing for the necessary appeal. 

“I know I did nothing wrong,” said Rama./dbs

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TAGS: graft and corruption, Ligutan, Michael Rama, Osmeña, Sandiganbayan, vice mayor

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