Cebu mayor files graft case vs congressmanBy Jhunnex Napallacan
CEBU CITY—Mayor Michael Rama has filed a graft complaint against his erstwhile ally and predecessor Representative Tomas Osmeña and two others for accepting cars as gifts when the congressman was still mayor of the city.
Rama, together with 200 supporters, filed the case at the Ombudsman-Visayas on Tuesday.
The mayor, who will be challenged in next year’s elections by Osmeña, asked the Ombudsman to investigate the congressman, Osmeña’s sister Minnie and Minnie’s son Paulo Osmeña Jacinto for alleged violation of several laws that set ethical standards for public officials and penalize accepting expensive gifts that can be construed as bribes.
The case is based on the receipt by Osmeña of two units of Dodge Charger, an American car, worth P2 million from a top executive of Bigfoot Entertainment, a company involved in producing movies and running a school on film and TV.
Representative Osmeña repeatedly denied the charge and said he was willing to face it. He said Bigfoot, which is a pioneer locator in Osmeña’s pet project South Road Properties (SRP), wanted to donate the cars in 2009 to the city government but decided against it after learning that Osmeña’s term as mayor was ending.
The cars were bought instead by Minnie and Minnie’s son, according to Osmeña.
In his complaint, Rama said Osmeña had even announced accepting the cars as donation.
Osmeña, who was then mayor, announced that the cars were for the city police for specific use by policemen to patrol SRP, a 300-hectare reclaimed area that is considered as Osmeña’s pet project as mayor.
Rama said Osmeña tried to conceal irregularities in his receipt of and use of the cars by having them painted black and white with the official seal of the city government and the words Cebu City Police.
Representative Osmeña’s wife, now Councilor Margot Osmeña, questioned the manner by which Rama filed the complaint. She said it was obvious that Rama wanted to get publicity mileage because he dragged at least 200 of his supporters with him when he went to the Ombudsman-Visayas office.
Based on records at the Land Transportation Office, the cars were registered under the name of Minnie and her son, Jacinto, last June. Representative Osmeña had shown deeds of sale showing his sister and nephew bought the cars.
In an interview with a local radio station, Arnel Tancinco, assistant LTO regional director, said he based the registration of the cars in the names of Minnie and her son on the deeds of sale that Representative Osmeña submitted to LTO.