Consult council, urban poor on 93-1 dispute, Rama told

12/24/10 - Concern and seeming jubilation greeted Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama's announcement that he would talk to Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia on the fate of the Cebu City lots covered by Provincial Ordinance 93-1 before the year ends.

But City Councilor Alvin Dizon cautioned Rama on talking with the governor without consulting with the Cebu City Council, urban poor groups covered by the ordinance and other stakeholders.

Over at the Capitol, Governor Garcia played it coy, responding to Rama's offer with smileys—a text message conveying happiness—when asked about her reaction by CEBU DAILY NEWS.

Dizon, who chairs the council's housing committee, said that while he respects the mayor's authority to enter into negotiations with the Capitol, it is “wise and prudent” for Rama to hear their side on the case.

“As the local chief executive, he (Rama) is empowered to protect the interest and welfare of city constituents. However...the mayor (should) consult the council especially the 93-1 negotiation team and 93-1 urban poor leaders to be updated (on the case),” Dizon said.

Governor Garcia, who visited the towns of Sibonga, Boljoon and Naga in southern Cebu, replied with a smiley or “:-)” when asked by CDN by phone about Rama's offer.

When pressed to elaborate, she texted back “It means what it means :-).”

Asked if it was possible for her and Rama to meet before yearend, Garcia replied with three smileys.

The governor will leave for the United States on Sunday with her son Paolo and Cristina and their families to spend the holidays with her youngest daughter Carissa and her family there.

In response, Rama said he was well aware of the implications of his plans to speak with Governor Garcia on the lot dispute.

He said there was no need for him to consult with the city negotiation team nor seek approval from the City Council.

The team consists of Dizon, Councilor Nida Cabrera and former city administrator Francisco Fernandez.

“I am a lawyer. I know where I stand and I know the mayor's powers... Any solution that would resolve the issue will always be welcome,” Rama said.

He said he already announced his plans to the media and it is “his prerogative as mayor” to talk with the governor.

Rama said he will present to the City Council the results of his conversation with Garcia on the 93-1 lot dispute.

Rama, whom former mayor and now Rep. Tomas Osmeña of Cebu City's south district blamed for the failed lot swap deal between the city and province, said he would like to become the solution to the problem by talking with the governor.

Rama admitted that he opposed the 93-1 negotiations between Osmeña and Garcia back in 2004, but said the situation was different then because the council was left unaware of the negotiations.

Rama, who was then vice mayor, opposed the lot-swap deal that would have the city allocate a portion of the North Reclamation Area (NRA) in exchange for the provincial lots occupied by the city residents. Reporter Dale G. Israel and Correspondent Edison delos Angeles. (Inquirer)

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