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Cebu City Mayor Rama, other execs suspended; CA junks plea for TRO; other mayors air support

CEBU CITY – The Court of Appeals in Manila has dismissed the petition filed by suspended Mayor Michael Rama and seven other Cebu City Hall officials questioning the suspension order issued against them by the Office of the Ombudsman.

In a resolution issued on May 17, 2024, the Appellate Court thumbed down the petition of Rama and the seven other City Hall employees for failure to cite meritorious grounds as to why they did not pursue other legal remedies before filing the petition for certiorari.

The petition assailed the order of the Office of the Ombudsman placing Rama, his city administrator lawyer Colin Rossel, Rosell’s wife former City Assessor Maria Theresa Rosell, lawyer Francis May Jacaba, Angelique Cabugao, Jay-Ar Pescante, Lester Joey Beniga, and Nelyn Sanrojo under preventive suspension for six months.

The Court resolved to dismiss outright the petition with a prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and injunction, as the petitioners failed to file a motion for reconsideration at the Office of the Ombudsman.

“A motion for reconsideration is a condition precedent to the filing of a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, as amended,” the order states.

“Although there is an exception to the rule, the petitioner failed to allege meritorious grounds as to why it was not availed of before filing the instant petition,” the court ruled.

Rama and the other petitioners also failed to attach the original transaction receipts from a private courier as proof of the mailing of their petition.

The case stemmed from the complaint of four Cebu City Hall employees – Filomena Atuel, Maria Almicar Diongzon, Sybil Ann Ybañez, and Chito dela Cerna – for allegedly withholding their salaries for 10 months. 

Despite the setback, some local and national politicians continued to acknowledge the service rendered by suspended Mayor Rama to Cebu City through their statements of support.

Cebu City 2nd District Representative Eduardo “Edu” Rama Jr. for one published his statement of support for Mike on his Facebook page.

“As the representative of the 2nd district of Cebu City, I stand with Cebu City Mayor Michael ‘Mike’ Lopez Rama amidst the circumstances that he currently faces,” the congressman said.

Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong and Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas also expressed support for the embattled mayor, Cebu Daily News reported.

Magalong, in his statement, considered Mike “an esteemed leader” and a colleague.

Magalong also described him as “a person of integrity and character” and someone who “always takes the welfare of his constituents above anything else in governance and public service.”

The Baguio City mayor added that Mike’s leadership in the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) “is beyond question,” CDN reported.

Mayor Treñas said in his statement that he had “witnessed” Mike’s “leadership” as the president of the LCP, according to the Cebu Daily News.

“I have seen his commitment and dedication in serving the people of Cebu City with their best interest in mind and for the common good. He is a Man of Character,” Treñas said.

Treñas also urged the public to “allow due process to take its course” and said he believes that “justice will prevail.”

Suspended Mayor Rama is the national president of the LCP, an organization comprising all city mayors to foster collaboration, unity, and cooperation among the country’s cities.

Previously, other mayors who expressed their support for Mike include Mayors Ma. Josefina “Joy” Belmonte (Quezon City), Carmen Geraldine Rosal (Legazpi City), Baby Armi Alvarez (Muñoz City), Luis Ferrer IV (City of General Trias), Rozzano Rufino Biazon (Muntinlupa), and Nacional Mercado (Maasin City, Southern Leyte).

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