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Cuenco still a Rama advisor

/ 06:43 AM August 16, 2013

Former Cebu City congressman Antonio Cuenco will remain an advisor to Mayor Michael Rama even if he and his son were dragged anew in controversy over the misuse of P3.8 million in pork barrel funds in a case filed against hospital officials.

Rama said Cuenco will always be presumed innocent unless findings by the Commission on Audit and Ombudsman confirm that he benefitted from the money.

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“He (Cuenco) was already exonerated from the point of view of COA and the Ombudsman,” the mayor said.

Since the mayor’s office and the City Council are still deadlocked on the hiring of consultants, Cuenco has yet to sign a consultancy contract.

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Cuenco was supposed to be Team Rama’s south district congressional candidate in the May 13 election but he backed out citing health reasons.

He was replaced by lawyer Aristotle Batuhan who lost to Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BO-PK) candidate and now south district Rep. Rodrigo Abellanosa.

Councilor James Cuenco, the former congressman’s son, was elected under the Team Rama banner. James said his father left for Manila on Wednesday for a dental appointment and to follow up some matters.

He said his father is currently working on Cebu City’s sister cities concerns.

Rama said he is happy that the issue on misuse of pork barrel funds became public so that an investigation could be made.

But when asked if he also intends to call for a review of the implementation of the City Hospitalization and Medicines Program (Champ), Rama said it was unnecessary.

A P120 million outlay was included in the 2013 city budget for the Champ which allows as much as P25,000 in hospitalization assistance for qualified city residents within the year.

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Another P5,000 assistance for medicines and laboratory examinations is given to beneficiaries.

Mayor Rama said a review should be made instead on how the Champ was implemented during the administration of former mayor Tomas Osmeña when some medicine suppliers were not paid. Chief of Reporters Doris C. Bongcac

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TAGS: Antonio Cuenco, Cebu City
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