Contrasting stances? Rama touts independence, Garcia affirms party loyalty amid BRT dispute

By: Pia Piquero - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | March 02,2024 - 11:05 AM

Rama Duterte Garcia

Former president Rodrigo Duterte raised the hands of Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama and vice-mayoral candidate Councilor Alvin Garcia. | CDN File Photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines – If Mayor Michael Rama claims to be “an independent mayor,” Cebu City Vice Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia, on the other hand, is “a party man.”

This was Garcia’s response to Rama’s claim when asked about their current political relationship, amid the ongoing controversy surrounding the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (CBRT).

In an interview on March 1, Garcia stated that despite Rama’s assertion of being an independent mayor, he affirms his commitment to remain a party man.

READ: Rama on Garcia as tandem in 2025, CBRT dispute: ‘I’m an independent mayor’

He emphasized that whatever decision the party makes, he will honor it.

“Well, he has already been saying that he is an independent mayor and ako pud, I have always been saying that I’m a party man. Whatever the party decides… if they choose to retain me as their vice mayor… that will still be my direction,” Garcia said.

Garcia added, “I will decide based on what the party will decide on in my consensus [and] within all the party members.”

However, Garcia clarified that it doesn’t mean he and Rama won’t team up for the 2025 elections, saying their current interactions are purely “professional.”

“Wala ko mag ingon nga dili ko makig-uban ni Mayor Mike Rama… As I’ve said, this is strictly professional. It does not affect our relationship as [partylist] and more importantly, it does not affect our relationship as friends,” Garcia stressed.

Rama is from Partido Barug, while Garcia is from KUSOG. However, they both ran under the same banner, the Partido BARUG, PDP-Laban, Kusug, and Panaghiusa coalition, during the May 2022 national and local elections.

READ: Cebu City council seeks halt to CBRT construction due to heritage concerns

The current sour political relationship in the Cebu City government stemmed from Garcia expressing support for Cebu Provincial Governor Gwendolyn Garcia’s decision to order a halt to the ongoing construction of a bus station fronting the Capitol due to heritage and visual concerns.

Garcia stressed that he wasn’t against the CBRT project but was concerned about the design of the station near the Capitol.

He feared it might obscure and affect Cebu City’s cultural and historical heritage represented by the Provincial Capitol.

READ: Rama to Gwen on BRT: Enough is enough

Garcia mentioned that Rama would have preferred the issue to be handled directly by him through the Cultural and Historical Affairs Commission (CHAC).

However, Garcia felt it was urgent to address the matter, so he brought it up in his privilege speech on February 28.

“Tingali, he was not so amused with my privileged speech kay ang iya man god ganahan kay i-bring up usa sa Cultural and Historical Affair Commission (CHAC) which I chair… But ako, when I spoke before the council, I was already armed with an authority coming from CHAC, and all the members of CHAC support my stand, and even support my privilege speech,” Garcia said.

When asked about Rama’s remark of “enough is enough,” Garcia hoped the mayor didn’t take it personally, emphasizing their actions are solely professional and aimed at serving the public.

He also asserted that he and Rama share the same vision for Cebu City, particularly in terms of preserving heritage and culture.

“Kami ni Mayor Mike, we have the same stand man on this issue [because] Mayor Mike is a [always] a lover of heritage and culture…Parehas gyud mi ug tumong ug tinguha for the preservation and conservation of heritage,” he said.

Rama and Garcia announced their intention to seek reelection in the 2025 midterm elections, which they made public on February 16, 2024. /clorenciana

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TAGS: Alvin Garcia, Cebu City Mayor Michael L. Rama, Cebu City politics

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