DILG probers to grill Mayor Rama next week
Cebu City officials led by Mayor Michael Rama will face a panel of interior department investigators next week to answer charges that they improperly appropriated calamity cash assistance for themselves last December.
Christopher Tiu, hearing officer of the Legal and Legislative Liaison Service of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), said they summoned city officials to appear in a marathon hearing scheduled from Oct. 14 to 16.
The hearing will be held at the DILG regional office in barangay Lahug.
“Please be prepared with your witnesses and documentary evidence if any. No postponement shall be entertained,” Tiu said in a letter dated Oct. 1. A copy was received at the Cebu City Legal Office last Oct. 3.
Rama, Vice Mayor Edgar Labella and 12 city councilors were cited for grave misconduct and abuse of authority in an administrative complaint filed by Cebu-based lawyer Reymelio Delute.
Delute, a Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BO-PK) candidate who lost his bid for the post of Basak San Nicolas barangay chairman, said the cash aid was an illegal appropriation.
He also questioned Cebu City officials for receiving the cash aid since they were not not calamity victims.
Delute’s complaint did not include Councilors Margarita “Margot” Osmeña, wife of former mayor and BO-PK leader Tomas Osmeña, Lea Japson, Richard Osmeña and James Anthony Cuenco.
City Legal Officer Jerone Castillo said impleaded officials are scheduled to meet today to prepare for the marathon hearing.
Labella said they canceled the City Council’s Oct. 15 session because of the hearing.
“All of us may have to appear during the first day of the hearing and it will already be up to the hearing officer to decide if there is still a need for us to come back in the succeeding days,” Councilor Gerardo Carillo said.
Carillo said their receipt of Tiu’s summon was among the items which the councilors discussed in last Tuesday’s luncheon meeting.
He and Councilor Sisinio Andales, who are lawyers by profession, signified their interest to represent themselves during the marathon hearing.
City Legal Officer Jerone Castillo will represent Mayor Rama and the other city officials.
Carillo said he used his P20,000 cash assistance to bring food and other relief items to his family in Batasan Island in Tubigon in Bohol province who were affected by supertyphoon Yolanda which hit on November 8, 2013.
Part of the calamity assistance was also spent for the rehabilitation of their ancestral house in Tubigon that was damaged by the typhoon.
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