CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama said yesterday he wants to put an end to the proposal to buy three Vietnam War-era planes from the Department of Education (DepEd). It isn’t likely to take off.
He said he received numerous texts criticizing the idea and took note of media commentary that opposed it.
“It’s unanimously not in favor. Why should I be in favor? It’s too much of stubbornness if I will pursue it,” Rama said. City Hall should pursue the plan only if officials “can defend it in Plaza Miranda or Plaza Sugbo.”
Rama said he will listen to the legislative department if the proposal to buy the Helio aircraft, for which DepEd is asking at least P4.6 million, will be brought up.
He is convinced, however, that the maintenance cost would be high, considering the units are no longer new.
“It’s up to the council but as far as the mayor is concerned, I have seen enough of what I have read and then I’ve been getting texts also about what people believe,” Rama said.
Vice Mayor Joy Young, who first brought up the idea, said it’s “okay” for him if the mayor is not keen on buying the Deped planes—a plan the former mayor and now Cebu City Rep. Tomas Osmeña has endorsed.
He is looking for flying enthusiasts to help him make a study about the aircraft and perhaps even bring the planes to the city. The vice mayor said he approached former councilor Sylvan Jakosalem and flying enthusiasts’ groups but is waiting for their reply.
“We need to show the study first para mahibawo sila ba kay kanang muingon sila nga kagang-kagang, dako ug ayuhonon, sayop man na kay in running condition man to.
Nakakita gud ko (It’s wrong to say the planes are falling apart because they are in running condition. I saw them myself),” Young said.
He pointed out City Hall won’t have to release money for the payment, but will offer, in exchange, to pay for the construction of school buildings in the city.
Young said it’s useless to bring the matter now to the city council if the councilors have no background of what they are talking about.
The three airplanes DepEd wants to sell are a Helio H-391B, a Helio H-295 and Helio H-250/295, the same models used during the Vietnam War.
The minimum bid for the three planes is US$100,000 or around P4.6 million at the current exchange rate.
Young said the price is very affordable and city officials can use the aircraft for coastal management or in going to the mountain barangays.
Osmeña, when told about Mayor Rama’s view, said he will no longer insist on buying the planes.
“Okay ra na, I was just saying that it’s an opportunity pero, mora’g dili man siya makasabot, wala na ta’y mahimo, it’s okay with me (It seems he really can’t understand this, so there’s nothing we can do),” Osmeña said.
When he was a councilor, Rama had proposed for City Hall to buy a helicopter and assign it to the military’s Central Command (Centcom) base in Cebu City, on condition that all of their helicopters will be available for the city in an emergency.
It was shelved, as it wasn’t a priority.
By Elly T. Bolonos
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 3, 2010.