Cebu City eyes purchase of 10M bulletproof SUV for Mayor Rama

By: Rashe Zoe Sophia Piquero - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | November 30,2023 - 07:06 PM

Ordinance for deployment of student interns in Cebu City proposed

A glimpse at the facade of the Cebu City Hall. CDN Digital photo | Brian J. Ochoa

CEBU CITY, Philippines – The Cebu City government is planning to purchase a 10-million-peso bulletproof and bombproof service utility vehicle (SUV) for the “security and safety” of Mayor Michael Rama.

The proposal is now pending approval by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) after the city submitted a letter of request dated October 6 to the said agency.

Cebu City Councilor Noel Wenceslao, the chairman of the committee of budget and finance, and the proponent of the approved resolution, said that the procurement of the vehicle was necessary for the security of Mayor Rama.

READ: Rama on recent crime incidents: ‘I take full responsibility for all of this’

“I think [its] bulletproof for security reasons. You know, wala man ta kabalo sa mahitabo sa city. For the security of our mayor, we also have to purchase a vehicle for us na secured gyud siya,” Wenceslao said in an interview on Thursday, November 30.

Wenceslao added that the actual request for the resolution stemmed from Rama’s longstanding need for a vehicle.

“Dugay kaayo na siya nga wa na siyay [sakyanan], iyang ng personal or inuslan ra gali guro na iyang land cruiser, so he needs a land cruiser,” Wenceslao said.

He assumed that the Commission on Audit (COA) has given its approval for the procurement, given that they have submitted a resolution request.

“They (Office of the Mayor) request[ed] me to ano [pass] the resolution. Gi clear nana nila mag purchase ug SUV. For highly urbanized city, pwede man siguro mo purchase ug SUV,” he said.

The proposed service utility vehicle (SUV) for Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama comes with a price tag of 6,582,931.04.

Additionally, the inclusion of level 6 bulletproofing and bombproofing entails an extra cost of 3,450,000. The total estimated expense for the acquisition, incorporating both the SUV and security enhancements, amounts to 10,032,931.04.

READ: Cebu City eyes increased RPT, international aid to fund P100B budget in 2024

The ownership of the vehicle will be vested in the city government, Wenceslao said, allowing its utilization by the succeeding official after the current administration.

“I think need siya [Rama] ug sakyanan kay kato iya gigamit gamit kay inuslan to niya so he needs an official car from the city,” Councilor Wenceslao said.


However, city councilor James Cuenco expressed concerns about the proposed purchase of a 10-million-peso vehicle, calling it “extravagant.”

“When I read through the documents, I found out dili man siguro gyud ni gituyo ni mayor. I know him he wouldn’t really want or use the funds of the city or purchase one kuan kaayo grandiose,” Cuenco said.

Cuenco also noted that Mayor Rama already has a security detail and backup vehicles, including a SWAT, which should be sufficient for ensuring his safety and security.

He further mentioned that there are prescribed allowable vehicles for high-ranking officials, and only the president, vice president, and chief justice are eligible to have bulletproof and bombproof vehicles.

“Sa request bulletproof, bombproof, blinkers; I don’t think this is allowed,” Cuenco said.

Cuenco also mentioned that he could have asked questions during the session when the resolution was being discussed, but he was absent at the time, implying that he believes the approval of the resolution may not have been thoroughly scrutinized.

“But I don’t want to blame [it] on the mayor itself. I know he has his way. This is unlike the character of Mayor Rama,” Cuenco said.

The proposed resolution was approved last November 22, during the regular session of the council.

“I’m hopeful that the mayor will reconsider basin wala ra mabantayi. I foresee the mayor realizing na mo withdraw ani,” Cuenco said.


Meanwhile, in a separate interview, the city administrator, Lawyer Collin Rosell, stated that it is appropriate to buy a vehicle of this kind to serve the constituents of Cebu given the terrain.

“Kinahanglan siya ug appropriate vehicle kay naa tay upland and lowland. And kana na vehicle klaro na na maka serve na siya nga safe unya secure sad atong official, including the mayor,” he said.

Rosell explained that Mayor Rama has experienced close calls while using an unsuitable vehicle due to the challenging terrain in Cebu.

READ: Rama worries over his safety

He further stated that if they are unable to obtain clearance from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) or encounter objections, they cannot proceed with the procurement of the special SUV for Mayor Rama.

Moreover, the city administrator mentioned that they would only purchase an SUV vehicle but seek sponsors for the bulletproofing to lower the cost of the overall budget.

“Necessary na siya nga ingana nga tranpsoration. Muingon gani tag safety, dili ra na safety, dili rana death threats, pwede sad na nga inappropriate the vehicle under a terrain, unya matagak ka,” Rosell said.


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TAGS: bombproof, bulletproof, Cebu City, Mayor Michael Rama, SUV

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