Rama reprimands, defends secretary over solicitation

By: Doris C. Bongcac July 01,2015 - 07:38 AM
RAMA : Nothing illegal     OSMENA: Self-serving inquiry

RAMA : Nothing illegal                   OSMENA: Self-serving inquiry

Nothing wrong with ‘partnering’ with private sector, mayor says

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said he has reprimanded his secretary for sending out solicitation letters for bread and water without his approval.

At the same time, the mayor defended Belinda Navascues for showing “initiative and resourcefulness.”

Rama said there was nothing wrong with “partnering with the private sector,” the phrase  he prefers to use instead of solicitation, which critics said was a  violation of the anti-graft law against public servants “soliciting” gifts or other things of material value from parties that transact business with the government.

“If the beneficiary is the public, that is initiative. If the beneficiary is the public, that is called resourcefulness. If the beneficiary is the public, that is called bringing the word kindness, generosity and charity to hit the hardened heart of the many who may not have already been into sharing, giving and helping, much less assisting,” Rama said yesterday.

He said the private sector has been contributing to other  city government’s activities like the Buhing Kalbaryo during Holy Week and the Pasko sa V. Rama Christmas decor contest.



“But the word is partnership, so it becomes a joining. It’s tapping and partnering,” he added.

Navascues the other day  admitted signing solicitation letters sent to commercial establishments  Gardenia and Philippine Spring Water Resources Inc. (Nature’s Spring) to ask for donations of bread and water for public school students who took part in a field demonstration during the Independence Day celebration last June 12.

However, Navasquez said she could not remember signing a similar letter asking for bottled water to be distributed during the mayor’s State of the City Address (SOCA) on July 4. The letter was posted on Facebook by Councilor Sisinio Andales, who called the written requests made on City Hall stationery in the name of Mayor Rama “illegal”.

“I have already called their attention that that should not be the practice,” said the mayor yesterday.

“Because wa man ko moingon nga in my behalf kay naa man koy ways of doing it better. Di lang ko mosulti unsaon kay anad man ko ana (I didn’t say they could ask  on my behalf because I have my own ways of doing it better. I just won’t say how, but I’m good at it),” he said.



Rama said his administration has been pushing  for more private sector involvement through what he calls “People Privately Driven Governance.”

He said this principle  was behind the beautification of sidewalks of Osmeña Boulevard from Capitol to Sanciangko Street, the construction of police stations and fire stations as well as the Senior Citizens Park.

“When there’s typhoon and disasters, there are telethons asking for contributions for the victims. If there are big events, gusto sila ari ta sa City Hall hutdon ang kwarta? (They want us to use up all the City Hall funds?) Why should we use City Hall funds if there are people who are willing to help?” he said.

He said individuals and companies that donate to or partner with the city government get nothing in return.

“Nothing. If you want to help, then help. That’s why I’m against tax credits. I am more on people privately-driven governance where you bring your heart, show the meaning of charity and generosity. Show your  love for the city. Give it all in the name of God and in the name of service,” Rama said.



During an investigation hearing conducted by City Hall’s resident ombudsman Johnson Hontanosas last Monday, Navascues admitted signing  solicitation letters for bread and water for the June 12 event.

She said the Cebu City Schools Division of the Department of Education (Deped) 7 had requested for snacks for the students who joined the field demonstration.

Hontanosas said he saw nothing illegal in what Navascues did since the donations not intended for  personal gain but a public purpose.

He said there was no intent of fraud or to gain  personal benefit on the part of Navascues.



Cebu City Councilor Margarita “Margot” Osmeña noted that Hontanasas was an appointee of the mayor  who was investigating the mayor’s secretary.

“It’s like you are investigating yourself,” she said.

Osmeña said she believes Navascues violated the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits solicitations. She wondered how long  the practice has been going on.

Osmena  said it was unfortunate that no businessman has come forward to file a complaint against Navascues. Private sector “partners” of City Hall have chosen to maintain silence and protect their interests.

Osmeña said she has a friend, who received a copy of the June 16 solicitation letter signed by Navascues.

“She was shocked and surprised more than anything. She did not contribute,”

Republic Act (RA) 6713, or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, prohibits solicitation and acceptance of gifts.

Section 7, paragraph d of RA 6713 states: “Public officials and employees shall not solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any gift, gratuity, favor, entertainment, loan or anything of monetary value from any person in the course of their political duties or in connection with any operation being regulated by, or any transaction which may be affected by the functions of their office.”

The solicitation by Navascues was exposed after Councilor Sisinio Andales posted a copy of the solicitation letter on his Facebook account.

“I am happy that finally Belinda admitted the due execution and authenticity of the solicitation letters. The law clearly prohibits solicitations, whether for personal gain or not. The law does not make a distinction, he said.

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TAGS: Buhing Kalbaryo, Cebu, Cebu City, Cebu City Mayor, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, Christmas decor contest, City hall, City Hall stationery, Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, councilor, Councilor Sisinio Andales, defends secretary over solicitation, Mayor Rama, Michael Rama, Pasko sa V. Rama, Pasko sa V. Rama Christmas decor contest, Rama reprimands, Sisinio Andales, SOCA, SOCA on July 4, State of the City Address

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