Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella (right) and Councilor Jerry Guardo wait for the seal of the mayor’s office before the latter’s oath-taking on Tuesday (July 2, 2019). (Photo by Luel Galarpe, PNA)

CEBU CITY – In another weird turn of events, it seems that the furniture and toilet bowl are not the only things missing in the city mayor’s office.

The staff of new installed Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella could not find the official seal of the mayor’s office, which was needed for the oath-taking of Councilor Jerry Guardo.

“I thought it was just the (toilet) bowl that was lost, but also the seal?” Labella was quoted as saying by the Philippine News Agency when his staff returned without the seal. The oath-taking was delayed for about 20 minutes.

The Local Government of Cebu City is set to file theft and graft cases against former city mayor Tomas Osmeña for stripping bare the mayor’s office before his term ended.

This was revealed by Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) in a press briefing on Friday, July 5.

“According to the city legal officer, Stephanie Claros, her office is prepared to file a case against the former mayor before the office of the Ombudsman….. They are planning to file cases in violation of Article 308 of the Revised Penal Code for Theft, and Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act against former mayor Tommy Osmena,” Malaya said.

Officers and workers of Dakay Construction and Development Corp., which stripped the office of all fixtures, will also be charged.

Labella was shocked to find the mayor’s office stripped of all furniture, fixtures, doors, partitions, ceiling and floor works, lighting and even the kitchen sink and toilet bowl.

Former mayor Tomas Osmeña admitted that he ordered his office emptied before his term ended on noon of June 30, saying he all of the items found inside his office came from his own pocket.  He said he used his own money to renovate the office since Labella, who was then vice mayor and presiding officer of the City Council, denied his request for a budget for the renovation.

The General Services Office of city hall certified that all of the shelves, light and plumbing fixtures, partitions and door, ceiling and floor works, which were all removed from the mayor’s office, were owned by the Osmeña.

However, Malaya said the former mayor could have asked for a reimbursement of the cost to renovate his office.

Malaya said the DILG would conduct its own investigation into the matter.

Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing also said in another interview that Osmeña could be charged administratively. (Rommel F. Lopez)