Rama replaces dep’t heads involved in garbage mess

CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama has named new personalities who will head different City Hall departments.

Rama on Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022, appointed Assistant City Administrator Dr. Anthony Aguhar as acting city treasurer, replacing acting city treasurer Mare Vae Fernandez Reyes.

Rama also appointed Dr. Maria Theresa Rosell, a certified public accountant, as acting city assessor. Rosell, wife of Rama’s executive secretary and lawyer Collin Rosell, replaced outgoing city assessor Liezl Calamba.

Also appointed by Rama are Giovanni Delgado, who will serve as acting city accountant, replacing Jerome Visarra Ornopia, while John Paul Delgado will replace lawyer John Jigo Dacua as acting head of the Department of Public Services (DPS).

Grace Luardo-Silva, the current acting head of DPS’s Disposal Unit, was also relieved of her duty but she will be transferred to serve as acting co-head of the Prevention, Restoration, Order, Beautification and Enhancement (Probe) team.

Luardo-Silva will also be assigned to oversee the enforcement division of Cebu City’s Environmental Sanitation and Enforcement Team.

In a statement he issued through Rosell, Rama said apart from Calamba, those being replaced were among those sued by the National Bureau of Investigation-Central Visayas (NBI 7) before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas over their alleged involvement in the City’s controversial garbage collection deal in 2021.

Rosell said Rama expects the newly appointed department heads to “demonstrate utmost prudence and diligence in their expanded roles and ensure that basic services will be unhampered.”

On Dec. 14, the NBI 7 filed plunder and graft and corruption charges against 15 individuals, including eight former and incumbent city government officials, before the anti-graft office over their alleged involvement in a garbage collection deal that resulted in over P239 million in damage to the government.

Charged were former Cebu City administrator Floro Casas Jr. and incumbent officials namely Dacua, Silva, Reyes, Ornopia and DPS officials namely DPS inspection officer Allen Omlero Ceballos, DPS City Treasurer’s Office inspector Romelito Asinjo Datan, and DPS General Services Office inspector Mark Abarquez Ugbinar.

The NBI alleged that there were unlawful acts committed, such as overbilling, padding and ghost garbage deliveries in carrying out the garbage collection deal.

To restore public trust

Rama said the involved officials need to be relieved from all their duties and responsibilities to keep public trust in the day-to-day affairs of the city.

“They shall be replaced in the interim and shall await further advice. They may be assigned in roles not related to their previous function as a preventive measure to ensure no influence nor interference,” Rama said.

Aguhar said they are still in the process of finalizing the offices where the former officials will be assigned.

In a press conference on Thursday, Aguhar said he has been working in the city government for 15 years already and has been assigned to 10 different departments including the City Treasurer’s Office.

Aguhar also talked on behalf of Delgado and shared that the latter has been working in City Hall for 10 years already and became the head of the audit team of the City Accountant’s Office.

As for new acting city assessor Rosell, she said she had a short stint at City Hall as part of the local treasury operations from 2015 to 2016.

Rosell said she has been a practicing certified public accountant for 25 years and is a holder of a doctorate degree in business administration.