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Republic of the Philippines
City of Cebu


The Vice Mayor Michael Rama, Members of this Honorable Body…

As you know, we have been through a succession of crisis. But one of our priorities is to really focus on our local issues.

We will finally get the titles to the South Reclamation Project. We already have several serious offers from different locators. Much however remains to be done, we will be bidding out the electricity, water, telephones, interior roads. But we are now moving towards our goal. The goal that took the city 15 years to accomplish from its inception in 1989 to where we are today. The goal is to create 30,000 jobs or more and increasing the city’s assets by P15 billion pesos.

The delay, well because of the nature of the size of our debt is creating havoc to our finances. This August, we have to pay P300 million. Next year, we need to pay P600 million. With your support, we will pay these debts and pursue the development of the SRP, without, of course, sacrificing basic services for all, especially the poor and the disadvantaged.


We will have to increase revenues, NOT by increasing taxes, but by improving collection. Most Cebuanos already pay their taxes and for this, we thank everybody. Increasing taxes will mean that we will have to run after those who don’t pay. Justice demands that we run after those who have not been paying. Just as we have run after VECO, GLOBE, SMART and PLDT. Now they are paying taxes. Now, we run after the Cebu Port Authority. They owe us P170 million in unpaid taxes. We will make them pay. We will make everyone who do not pay their taxes pay.

We appeal to all real estate owners with tax delinquencies to come to us and avail of our liberal tax settlement – 25% down, the balance payable in 1 to 3 years. If they refuse, we will auction their properties. And we will possess and sell these properties should they fail to redeem them within one year.

We will also collect other unpaid taxes, including those on machineries and equipment. Last year, only six tax declarations were issued on machineries and equipment. Only six… I have therefore instructed the City Assessor’s and other revenue officers to BEHAVE. And BEHAVE they will. It is serious crime that others pay while others go away scot-free.

We will, of course, be reasonable. I have asked the City Council to reduce the tax rates for educational and medical institutions from 2.5% to ¾ of 1%, at the same time waiving penalties.

There are marked improvements on revenues collected from our abattoir, our public markets, loan payment of the urban poor, CITOM and the terminals. Very good compared to the previous years. Not good enough compared to the Cebuanos distinction for excellence.

South Reclamation Project

We are now pursuing the development of the SRP to make it marketable and useful. The Mambaling access road is now passable. The construction of the ABC and the Senior citizen’s buildings in Kawit Island are on going. The sewage treatment plant will soon be operational to finally provide our city with non-hazardous disposal of its human wastes. And we have some good news too. We have run test wells at the SRP. And there’s plenty of water underneath the reclamation area.

Basic Services

Despite financial constraints, basic services have not suffered. We, however, need more focus. As explained to this honorable body last year, governments should provide only services that the private sector is either not capable or not willing to provide. Primarily through SPRING, (Systems and Procedures Rationalization IN Government) we are evaluating the services that we are presently providing to discard the unnecessary and to improve those that must be continued.

We have improvements here and there. More garbage and dump trucks are operational. We are rationalizing our streetlights. Our dengue cases were reduced. Our peace and order is improved. In partnership with NGOs, and many thanks to them, we continue to receive honors on our programs for children, social housing, and now women. One of those who have been a partner to the city is nominated to the Nobel Prize. Let’s give her the round of applause. Tessie Fernandez.

But these are not enough. We will have to do more. Education remains to be our big problem and it’s our top priority. We have taken drastic measures. We will continue to take more drastic measures. Our children are our future. We know they cannot vote but we must give them what they deserve.

Reengineering Bureaucracy

We are now forming a Special Department of Innovation and Change. We are reengineering the entire bureaucracy. Our bureaucracy remains bloated. We are conducting an audit of personnel to minimize wastage. We cannot waste our taxpayers’ money on employees who do not work. I have therefore invited Akbayan, one of the more radical NGOs, to nominate an In-House Ombudsman who will promote accountability and transparency in City Hall.

To reduce delays on procurements, we now have two Bids and Awards Committees. To reduce costs and paperwork, we buy in bulk, beginning with our office supplies and going into meals and medicines. We continue to lease multicabs.

We are also strengthening middle management, by training and promoting those who deserve. We have invited the best and the brightest of Cebu to help us reinvent government and reengineer our bureaucracy. We have more than 60 graduates, who are each of them cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude. They have responded to this challenge.

National Situation

While we go through all the issues that beset our city, there are many who are deeply disturbed by what they see on the papers, on TV, on what is happening in the national government. It is our responsibility to remind the people that it is what happens in Cebu that will determine our success, and not what happens in Manila. I would like to point out that in Italy, sometime in the late 70’s and early 80’s, they were undergoing turmoil much worse than what we are undergoing today. The government was toppling one after the other. They change government, I don’t know, almost half a dozen times, sometimes within weeks of each other. While all of these were going on, the country went through an economic boom, never so strong in its history. Why? The businessmen didn’t care. During the same period, the equivalent of the Abu Sayaf was planting bombs all over the place. They were called the Red Brigades. But the economy prospered. The Mafia made a vicious comeback, coming out of Sicily. They even assassinated the Chief Justice of Italy with a mode of car bomb that threw his car to the height of almost ten stories high. That’s how vicious it was, and yet the economy was booming.

This is an example that it’s really in our hands to create our own future. If we, here in Cebu, are just going to react to what you see in the television and in the newspapers, then you will be a victim of our own sense of pride. We have overcome other problems in the past, Bagyong Ruping, when the city needed help and the national didn’t help us. We need to exercise strong sense of self-reliance. I just hope and pray that we just focus on our work because if you really think about it, it’s really now our CHANCE. It is really now our CHANCE TO SHOW TO MANILA THAT THEY ARE NO LONGER THE LEADERS. CEBU WILL STEP INTO THEIR SHOES. AND WE WILL LEAD THE WAY.

Thank you very much…
Finally, let us inspire ourselves to the blessings the Lady of Guadalupe, our patron saint, and Señor Sto. Niño. Let us also leave room for our Muslim brothers and the others who have made a very important role in making our community work together.

Thank you.

State of the City Address (2005)
Mayor Tomas R. Osmeña