As heir apparent of the Bando Osmeña- Pundok Kauswagan (BO-PK) party, Michael Lopez Rama didn?t have an easy time with his appointment as standard bearer.
He had to pay his dues first as a three-term vice Cebu City mayor and three-term city councilor with unbroken loyalty to Mayor Tomas Osmeña.
Last year, barangay captains, who were used to the tough, no-nonsense style of Osmeña, contested the choice. Despite a manifesto questioning BO-PK?s candidate, Rama hung on.
The lawyer with a ready smile and handshake for anyone he greets, was persistent. He made friends again with the barangay captains, meeting them to talk about their concerns.
Mayor Osmeña came within an inch of disowning the boyish vice mayor for being too ?friendly with the enemy?, a reference to Gov. Gwen Garcia, during his absence in the United States where Osmeña was being treated for cancer.
During Osmeña?s medical leave, Rama was acting mayor for over two months. He met several controversies, including accusations of meddling with a drug bust and the ?Texter?s Choice? brouhaha in the Miss Cebu 2009 pageant that got out of hand.
In the end, the mayor kept his word to support Rama for the mayorship.
Rama?s brother George first invited the lawyer to run for the City Council in 1992. It?s been a city government career since then for Rama, a top vote-drawer in each election.
The annual Sinulog Festival in January, Pasko sa V. Rama, and Revitalization of Colon are among his trademark projects.
He was voted the national president of the Vice Mayors? League of the Philippines (VMLP), winning by a landslide.
Mike Rama is the son of Fernando Rama, a former city councilor credited for reforestation efforts to green the hills of Cebu. Mike?s grandfather is former senator Vicente Rama?the Father of the Cebu City Charter.
If elected in May, the vice mayor says he?ll anchor his agenda on the slogan ?bayanihan, barangayan and boluntarismo?.
How do you size up your opponent? What are your campaign strategies? Who among your opponents do you consider the strongest?
Opponents should not be taken lightly. I do things as if it is my first time. However, I should assure myself that I would be truly satisfied with the outcome of my efforts.
What are you going to do differently in this campaign?
There is not much of a difference since I have been campaigning in the south and north districts of the city since 2001. It is the same as the three immediate consecutive elections. Sorry, I could not be detailed about this as I might be divulging a trade secret.
Are you going to use the same strategy in your past victories?
Definitely. I have been successful so far in the past six elections. Doing the campaign strategically and scientifically is my foremost consideration.
How will you work with those from outside your party who will be elected to serve with you?
I am optimistic BO-PK will accomplish 8-0 for the north councilors and 8-0 for the south councilors. It is the least of my concerns to think of a BO-PK outsider in the city council. We will cross the bridge if and when an outsider is in.
What do you plan to accomplish in your first 100 days in office?
Together, we can significantly accomplish things within the first 100 days. All stakeholders will be involved in straightening up City Hall and its human resources. Better blic service will be rendered with a good, if not better, organization and city public servants, having in mind the right persons in the right positions. There is a need to attend to the health centers and to ensure positive public impression of the Cebu City Medical Center as a health and medical institution. Street lighting, road asphalting, drainage and garbage concerns should be seriously addressed with more sustainable approaches.
What are the top three problems plaguing the city? How do you wish to solve these?
The basic problems in the city involve mainly the environment and peace and order. Juvenile delinquency and gang wars should be addressed with the active participation of government and non-government agencies. Mendicancy and night sidewalk dwellers should be taken seriously. Sustainable solid waste management programs may address worsening environment concerns.
What are the policies, programs of the present administration that you plan to carry out if elected into office? What are those that you will change and why?
Effective social services such as programs for the senior citizens, the differently-abled and children and disaster relief will be carried out. Improvement of the partnership between city government and other stakeholders of the development of the city will be enhanced.
Where do you see Cebu City in three years?
Cebu City as a sustainable community where ?bayanihan, barangayan and boluntarismo? are taken to heart by every constituent.
How will you solve Cebu City's water crisis?
There is no substitute to full awareness of the crisis. If people become concerned about this and with the active role of barangay officials, they themselves will conserve water. There is a need as well to address the concerns of watersheds. Massive tree planting is a necessity. We can solve the crisis with the enforcement of the City Water Ordinance. Capturing rain water and setting up gabion dams will help.
We have no more forests, our uplands appear sold to developers, we have very few parks, and the ones we have are not lush. Do you plan to do anything about this?
In my guide for the development of Cebu City, I made it a point that environment and development should be balanced in the upland. Also, the city government has recently initiated the establishment of an ?upland management board? similar to the coastline management board (CMB) which I initiated some time in 2002.
How will you attract investors?
More investors will be encouraged to come to Cebu City once they see and feel that it is a place worth living for. This means that peace and order is maintained, business infrastructure is in place, and manpower (both skilled & professional) is adequate.
How will you enrich the city's treasury?
Better collection is required. Win-win schemes have to be designed in order to enhance tax collection and improve basic public service. Sound investment portfolio may be considered through the involvement of relevant expertise.
How will you solve our problem?
The role of police should be emphasized with the active involvement of the private individuals, such as the anti-crime groups. Concerted efforts to address these incidents are vital to their solution.
How will you improve our traffic situation?
Good manners and right conduct on the road should be taught to drivers. Maybe, more consideration of the active involvement of the mobile patrol police in traffic management with the assistance of responsible traffic enforcers will be taken. Also, a no-nonsense multi-sector reorientation on traffic is indispensable.
How will you care for the youth as father of the city?
Government should encourage no-nonsense interactive programs with parents. Youth exposure to basic values such as being God fearing, respect for parents (old folks) and hard work must be emphasized.
Parents may be encouraged to join groups or people?s organizations that may provide assistance as to good parenting and livelihood. In this way, the government under the ?parens patria principle? may take the role of good parents if the latter may be incorrigible.
How will the city's relationship with the province play out on your watch?
I am running for mayor, not for governor. My priority concern is how to run Cebu City. The city of Cebu is a highly urbanized city independent of the province. It has to stand by itself in accordance with its charter.
I am aware that relations among local governmentuUnits are so provided under the Local Government Code. Ties with LGUs then shall be in accordance with that law. Such kind of relationship is what we wish to establish in relation with the province.