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Garcia assumes post of acting Cebu City mayor

MANILA, Philippines — City Vice Mayor Raymond Garcia yesterday assumed the post of acting mayor following the preventive suspension of Mayor Michael Rama by the Office of the Ombudsman.

During the flag-raising ceremony, Garcia called for unity and cooperation among department heads and employees while he is discharging his duties as acting mayor.

“I urge everyone to join hands and work together for a smooth transition, so things can quickly get back to normal,” Garcia said.

Aside from Rama, the ombudsman also ordered the six-month preventive suspension of seven other city officials for allegedly reassigning and withholding the salaries of four city hall employees.

Garcia appointed Kristine Joyce Batucan as city administrator, Liezl Calamba as assessor and Sam Salimbago as chief of staff.

Batucan and Calamba replaced suspended city administrator Collin Rosell and assessor Maria Teresa Rosell.

“Together, let us focus on integrity and efficiency in government service, and adhere to the wisdom that public office is a public trust. Let us focus on service above self and show good results to the people of Cebu,” Garcia said.

He gave assurance that no major changes would be implemented under his leadership.

“I do not want to rock the boat. As I said, I want continuity,” he said.

Garcia ordered an investigation into the alleged harassment of four city hall workers who filed the complaint that resulted in the suspension of Rama.

Garcia gave Batucan and the city hall human resources and development office 48 hours to submit a report about the alleged harassment.

City tax mappers Filomena Atuel and Maria Dio-ngzon as well as assessment operations officers Sybil Ann Ybañez and Chito dela Cerna filed the complaint against Rama and the others last month.

The complainants said Rama transferred them to other departments without any reason.

The ombudsman said the complainants have not received their salaries since July 2023, and were not reinstated despite a decision of the Civil Service Commission that granted their appeal.