It’s probably for the best that all ambulances and other equipment intended for emergency use are under the direct supervision and control of the designated department in Cebu City Hall.
Last Monday, Nagiel Bañacia, chief of Cebu City Hall’s City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, categorically stated that all ambulances are listed under his name and not under the point person/coordinator appointed by Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña in every barangay dominated by barangay chairpersons allied with the rival Team Rama.
He was compelled to issue the clarification after he, the mayor and five other officials were charged by Barangay Sambag I Chairman Lemar Alcover with malversation of public funds and violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for turning over a city-owned ambulance to Aileen Guardo, wife of suspended City Councilor Jerry Guardo, and not to him or any of his allied officials.
While Mayor Osmeña denied signing any document to turn over the ambulance to Aileen Guardo, a barangay coordinator under the mayor’s office, he did say that she was an advisor and knows how best to use the ambulance in their area.
Besides, the mayor made no secret of his resentment towards the previous administration’s withdrawal of all city-owned vehicles from barangay officials allied with his Bando Osmena-Pundok Kauswagan (BO-PK) and their reassignment to allies.
Alcover, son of Councilor Pastor Alcover who is allied with Team Rama, knows this political reality of patronage politics all too well, yet he still filed the charges.
We can’t recall if the incumbent mayor filed charges similar to those lodged by Alcover at the Ombudsman-Visayas against the administration of former mayor Michael Rama after Rama reassigned the then newly bought service vehicles to barangay officials allied with his Team Rama party.
When Osmeña won against Rama last year, his wife then acting mayor Margot Osmeña ordered the recall of all city-owned vehicles back to City Hall prior to his reassumption of the mayoral seat.
With a case filed against them at the Ombudsman-Visayas, Bañacia’s declaration at least put everything in perspective as far as the allocation of city-owned vehicles and equipment used for emergency purposes is concerned.
It is still obviously clear that Bañacia takes orders from the mayor, whose generosity to allies is shown through the designation of councilors as deputy mayors for a lot of areas of governance.
Anyone familiar with how local and national politics are played knows that Bañacia’s declaration is but a surface and blanket denial of how Cebu City’s resources are being used which, to be fair, was also practiced by the previous administration and perhaps every administration that will come after them.