Posted on May 2, 2010


Osmeña taunts governor with signages on Balili land deal fiasco

By Marian Z. Codilla and Ador Vincent S. Mayol, Reporters


With just one week before Election Day, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña took time out from his own congressional seat campaign and trained his gun instead on his political nemesis, Cebu Gov . Gwendolyn Garcia.

Since he could not campaign for his gubernatorial candidate Hilario “Junjun” Davide III (Liberal Party) in the province, Osmeña set up three huge reflectorized “billboards” critical of reelectionist Governor Garcia along the South Road Properties (SRP) to supposedly “conscienticize” provincial voters about Capitol’s disastrous purchase of an underwater property in Naga City.

Motorists passing through the SRP going to the southern part of the province can clearly see the 3 meter x 4 meter alternative signages or “billboards” spaced 50-meters apart.

The first sign says: “This way to the S.U.P (South Underwater Properties 19 kilometers away)” with an arrow pointing south. Another signage came after the first one says: “Your Provincial Taxes at Work.” Then the last one appears, saying “A Proud Blunder of Gov. Gwen Garcia. I’m Sorry.”

The “I’m sorry” part was apparently in reference to the mea culpa statement that the governor made at the height of the Naga underwater property controversy in August last year.

Osmeña, who is running for Cebu City south district’s congressional seat, admitted he ordered the signages put up to “remind” provincial constituents of the  P98.9 million underwater coastal property bought by the provincial government from the Balili family in Tinaan, Naga.

“Yeah, we set that up… It is just to let the people realize what kind of governor they have,” Osmeña told in an interview at the SRP last Saturday on the first day of the weeklong celebration of the launching of the SRP.

The three reflectorized signages were set up Saturday afternoon, one week before the grand opening of the SRP.

The billboards were just of the one of the many the taunts that the mayor has thrown on Garcia whom he has accused of allegedly misusing provincial funds.

Osmeña said no fund from the city government was used to put up the signages, saying it were paid for from monies generated through his “personal initiative.”

This was the second time that Osmeña has set up signages along the SRP to criticize the governor. The first occurred last year when the mayor put up a sign: “Please Dim Your Lights. This is Not the Province.”

Aside from the new signages at the SRP, t-shirts bearing a caricature of Garcia with a body of an octopus have also started appearing over the weekend.  

The t-shirt showed one of Garcia’s tentacles holding the scrap iron of Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) having a price tag of P836.5 million, in apparent reference to the criticisms raised on the high cost of constructing the convention center. Another tentacle was holding a coconut tree representing the Balili property and has a price tag of P98.9 million, and a third tentacle is holding the neck of three mayors and local officials.

When asked if he was the one who had the t-shirt produced, the mayor smiled and answered, “I don’t have to. I might have it mass produced.”

Since Davide resigned as Cebu City councilor last year to head the LP in Cebu and later run for governor under the party, he had been assured by Osmeña that the latter would help him in his campaign to bring down the governor.

But Davide, reached for comment yesterday, insisted he did not saw this coming and was not even aware of it.

He also said that he would not want to comment further on the issue.

Capitol consultant Rory Jon Sepulveda yesterday fumed upon learning that Osmeña has unleashed yet another political stunt against the governor.

“Tomas’ gimmicks are made to catch media attention. It’s up to you (media) if you will allow yourselves to be swayed,” Sepulveda told CEBU DAILY NEWS in a phone interview yesterday.

Sepulveda, Capitol consultant on information and revenue generation, said Osmeña only wanted to deflect the public’s attention from several basic services which the mayor failed to address.

Unsa may nabuhat niya (Osmeña) gawas sa pasiatab? Naunsa na man na ang ilang traffic lights? Tomas, asa na man ang imong asphalt storm? Naa pay Inayawan dumpsite nga baho kaayo. (What has Osmeña done other than his stunts? What has happened to the city’s traffic lights? Tomas, where is your asphalt storm and why does the Inayawan dumpsite stinks?),” Sepulveda said.

He said the mayor even failed to address the drainage situation of the city which took the lives of some individuals when shanties were flooded.

He urged constituents to make a decision whether or not to give Osmeña another chance to govern Cebu City.

“It’s up to the constituents of the city. May 10 is the appropriate time,” he said.

Sepulveda said the issue involving the Balili beach property in Naga has already been investigated by agencies which include the Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas.

“Just allow him to entertain his brain. He is not ordinary. He is mediocre. Di mi magnukos-nukos parehas niya. Unsa may iyang nabuhat? (We will not do squid tactics just like the mayor. What has Osmeña done for the city?),” he asked.

When asked whether or not the Capitol will file a complaint against the mayor, Sepulveda said, “We are not closing the doors.”

He said Osmeña might be using public funds in constructing the road reflectors.

Sepulveda also accused Osmeña of being responsible for the anti-Garcia octopus t-shirts as cheap gimmickry.

Ako pa ni Tomas, ipakita niya unsa iyang nabuhat. (If I were Tomas, I will show the public what I have done for the city),” he said.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on the other found no need to prohibit Osmeña from putting up those road signages while the election season continues.

“Campaigning is any act to promote or defeat the election of a candidate,” said Marco Lionel Castillano, Cebu provincial election supervisor.

Castillano said there was nothing the Comelec could do if no public fund was used. “If government funds are used, that’s another thing,” Castillano told CDN Sunday.

He said it would now be up to the Commission on Audit to determine whether or not public funds were used to build the reflectorized road signages.

CDN tried to contact Governor Garcia for comment but her cellular phone was turned off.