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Rama asks Malacañang to suspend Gwen over CBRT dispute

Gwen Garcia simply responds with "no comment" on the administrative complaint

By: Pia Piquero - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | March 22,2024 - 04:35 PM

Rama vs. Gwen CBRT. In photo are friendlier times: Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia shakes hands with Vice Governor Hilario Davide and Cebu City Vice Mayor Michael Rama | Gerard Vincent Francisco (File Photo)

FRIENDLIER TIMES: Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia shakes hands with Vice Governor Hilario Davide and Cebu City Vice Mayor Michael Rama | Gerard Vincent Francisco (File Photo)

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Preventive Suspension.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama is seeking the suspension of Governor Gwen Garcia over issues related to the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (CBRT).

Rama filed an administrative complaint before the Office of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. against Garcia after the governor issued a cease and desist order to the CBRT project citing heritage concerns.

He claimed that Garcia violated the principles of abuse of authority, oppression, and grave misconduct, asserting that she has no jurisdiction to interfere with the affairs of Cebu City and that –as a Highly Urbanized City (HUC), Cebu City operates independently from the province.

READ: Gwen orders to halt Cebu BRT construction in heritage buffer zones

The administrative complaint was instigated when Garcia issued a memorandum to halt the ongoing CBRT construction near the Capitol building on February 27, 2024.

In memorandum No. 16-2024 that was issued by Garcia to the Cebu BRT Team and contractor, Hunan Road and Bridge Construction Group Ltd., it directed them to cease civil works on province-owned lots along Osmeña Boulevard.

The memorandum said that the ongoing construction encroached upon buffer zones of the Cebu Provincial Capitol and Fuente Osmeña Circle.

In response, on March 7, the mayor warned of legal action against anyone obstructing the CBRT project, potentially including a lawsuit against the governor.

READ: Rama threatens legal action against Gwen, CBRT opponents

Approximately two weeks later, Rama proceeded to officially lodge a complaint.

In a legal complaint dated March 20 before the Office of the President, Rama outlined several factual antecedents regarding the complaint.

Firstly, the complaint noted that the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (CBRT) is a national government initiative aimed at providing infrastructure to the commuting public.

Furthermore, the complaint stated that as of October 13, 2023, the allocated budget for the CBRT project is pegged at P28.78 billion, intended to cover 76 stops throughout Cebu, spanning the cities of Cebu and Talisay.

The complaint emphasized that if the CBRT project were to be halted, its objectives would never be realized.

Additionally, it highlighted that the public funds already spent on the project would only go to waste if the CBRT remained unfinished.

Moreover, the complaint criticized Garcia’s unwarranted exercise of quasi-judicial powers and deprivation of the contractor’s property rights without due process.

It further claimed that Garcia went as far as to involve police elements when she ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to monitor the strict implementation of her issued memorandum.

The discussion of each ground states that the governor committed abuse of authority, as no one, including the governor of the province of Cebu, can issue cease and desist orders with respect to national infrastructure projects, which is a judicial function vested exclusively with the Supreme Court.

Secondly, Garcia’s act of issuing the assailed memorandum is considered improper conduct.

READ: Arrogant public officials

“It is simply unthinkable for Governor Garcia to advance the afterthought that the CBRT ‘appears to be located within the buffer zones of classic heritage zones’ without putting due regard on the property rights vested to the contractor. This offends Hunan’s rights to due process,” read an excerpt from the complaint.

The complaint also stated that Garcia’s conduct failed to meet the standards of excellence, professionalism, intelligence, and skill expected of a public official.

“The timing of Governor Garcia’s assailed memorandum, a year after the groundbreaking and when the CBRT is almost 60 percent complete as of February 16, 2024, and is scheduled to be finished by early July 2024, shows Governor Garcia’s lack of consideration for the substantial progress made and the investment already incurred.”

Meanwhile, when asked by reporters for her reaction to the complaint filed by the mayor, Garcia simply responded with “no comment.” /with reports from Morexette Marie B. Erram


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TAGS: CBRT, Cebu City, Gov. Gwen Garcia, Mayro Rama, suspension

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