Before office of the president: Tom faces 4th case
Jean Marvette A. Demecillo (The Freeman) - March 31, 2017 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Complaints against Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña continue to pile up at the Office of the President, all lodged by personalities affiliated with rival Team Rama.

City Councilors James Anthony Cuenco and Pastor Alcover Jr. on Monday asked President Duterte’s office to suspend Osmeña for allowing the operation of a V-hire terminal in Barangay Kamagayan that reportedly violates an existing city ordinance.

The complaint brings the total number of cases filed against Osmeña to four, at least before the president’s office, in a span of just seven months.

Anecito Canturias, regional headquarters head of the United Nationalist Alliance and former chief of the Cebu City Investment Promotions Center during the time of former mayor Michael Rama, filed the first complaint in August last year in connection with Osmeña’s appointment of two acting mayors when he went on a vacation leave.

February this year, Apas Barangay Captain Ramil Ayuman lodged an administrative complaint against the mayor and his wife, Councilor Margot Osmeña, over the reopening of the Inayawan sanitary landfill.

Ayuman followed it up with another case earlier this month, charging Osmeña of owning two units of Dodge Charger vehicles donated by Bigfoot Global Solution to the city government.

This time around, Cuenco and Alcover have accused Osmeña of committing grave misconduct, grave abuse of authority, and usurpation of authority for allowing the operation of the terminal.

"The immediate preventive suspension prayed for will prevent respondent (Osmeña) from influencing the witnesses against him and in order to preserve the safety and integrity of the records and other evidence related to this case," their seven-page complaint read.

This is the second complaint against Osmeña in relation to the controversial operation of the V-hire terminal after City Councilor Raymond Alvin Garcia, also of Team Rama, sued the mayor before the Office of the Ombudsman last week.

Just like Garcia’s contention, Cuenco and Alcover alleged that Osmeña blatantly violated City Ordinance 1958 that regulates the establishment and operation of terminals for public utility jeepneys and V-hire vehicles in the city.

Cuenco and Alcover said the ordinance requires the terminal to have a minimum area of 2,000 square meters. However, the existing one sits in just a 400-square meter lot in Barangay Kamagayan.

The terminal, they added, is also located within the 300-meter radius from a block that includes the central downtown area, which is another violation.

Aside from these physical violations, the terminal is also allegedly operating without a lease contract.

The complainants said that as per ordinance, the terminal should have three water closets, three urinals, and three lavatories for men and at least five water closets and five lavatories for women within its premises. Yet the existing one does not reportedly have comfort rooms, posing health risks to its users.

On top of these issues, the terminal likewise allegedly hosts a gasoline station that does not have necessary permits.

Osmeña was unavailable for comment yesterday, but in his recent interviews with the media, he has since pushed for the ordinance’s amendment to make it more responsive to the public’s needs.

He said the city is merely testing the feasibility of operating the V-hire terminal in the area.

The test will run for 60 days.

Furthermore, the mayor labeled Garcia’s move of filing a case against him as plain politicking.

“They are just playing politics, plain and simple. Mike Rama has been mayor for six years, yet there isn’t a single accredited V-hire station. He closed the legitimate one – it was from BOPK – and he transferred it to SM, which is not accredited either. And he transferred it to Club Ultima, which is not accredited either,” Osmeña said.

“So I put them in a present location as an experiment, and it seems like it’s working. What are we trying to do? We are trying to help people who work in Cebu City so that they don’t have to squat here. It’s as simple as that,” he added.

Who owns it?

The FREEMAN visited the terminal yesterday and was told by a V-hire driver that the terminal is managed by a certain Douglas Labra.

Labra also reportedly owns an eatery at the terminal, according to an attendant.

But a person claiming to be Douglas Labra, who was chanced upon by The FREEMAN at the terminal denied owning the facility.

“Wala ko’y labot sa terminal. Dili ko empleyado sa City Hall. Ako ang nagdala sa Farmer’s Market nga naa aning terminal before,” he said.

Labra, however, said the V-hire drivers requested to the city government to use the property. He said it is the city government that’s operating the facility since the City Treasurer’s Office is collecting fees.

Adrian Navia, the assigned collector yesterday, said fees collected from V-hire drivers range from P20 to P100, depending on the trip and the number of passengers.

Navia said the fees collected by the city have been agreed upon by drivers and operators themselves.

Bobby Papellero, a driver plying the Toledo-Cebu City route, said V-hire drivers are now at ease with their current location.

“Mas maayo diri kay pabor sa pasahero. Safety pod ang pasahero. Nakauyon ra gyod mi diri maong hangyo nga dili lang mi tangtangon diri kay nakauyon ra mi’s lugar,” he said. (FREEMAN)

TOMAS OSMEñA
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