Cebu City’s ‘new’ mayor

By Malou Guanzon Apalisok August 18,2014

A little birdie told me that a few hours after the Cebu City Council authorized Mayor Michael “Mike” Rama to negotiate and dispose of 45.2 hectares of the South Road Properties (SRP), hizzoner had dinner in the company of close relatives and political allies in an uptown Chinese restaurant.

Earlier in the day, the City Council, by a vote of 9-7, passed the resolution authorizing the local chief executive to sell the aforesaid SRP batches valued at P20,000.00 per square meter or P5.2 billion. The resolution was authored by a member of the opposition Bando Osmena Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK).

According to my source, Mayor Rama looked very relaxed and happy apparently over the Council resolution that virtually gave him the password to enter the SRP domain.

As we all know, up until Wednesday last week, di gyud kaugpo si Mike Rama sa lokal nga consejo (Mike can’t have his way in the council) because his allies comprise the minority. He can count only on Councilors Hanz Abella, David Tumulak, Mary Ann delos Santos and Philip Zafra.

The rest are identified with the BOPK led by former mayor and congressman, Tomas “Tommy” Osmeña whose vise-like grip in the BOPK-led Council is worthy of an urban legend.

The impact of the resolution cannot be overstated because the local legislative branch has not had any other political leader for the past 22 years other than Tommy, the acknowledged brains of the SRP. That the Council had to go Mike’s way over a project that bears Tommy’s brainchild is a double whammy for the administration. To say the City Council has a new majority would be an understatement. Apropos to what happened last week, Cebuanos can now truly say they have a new mayor.

It was BOPK Councilor Gerardo Carillo who authored the resolution authorizing Mayor Rama to dispose of 45.2 hectares of SRP lots covering Lot 7, 17 and 18. Carillo’s move is hinged on the city’s immediate obligations.

A city councilor can either argue with Councilor Carillo and lose political pogi points or support the resolution and prepare for the BOPK backlash.

I suppose Councilors Gerry Carillo, Noel Wenceslao, Roberto Cabarrubias and Richard Osmeña did not just go with the flow but at the precise point in which they summoned Mike to go ahead and sell the SRP batches, committed the once dreaded “transfer of affection” or TOA, in Carillo’s words.

The Carillo resolution is not hard to digest even for the most rabid BOPK council members. Out of the P5.2 billion that will be generated from the sale of the SRP lots, the city government would be able to write off its P3.2 billion debts owed to the Japanese International Cooperation Agency that financed the implementation of the SRP.

This is a move that even ordinary taxpayers will confirm. By paying the outstanding obligations in full, the city would be able to save on interest payments. The remainder of P2 billion will go to welfare benefits dedicated to senior citizens and solo parents.

The time will come when the value of the SRP lots will shoot up to the heavens but the basic needs especially of older persons in the city cannot wait. Older persons need food and medicines. The P2,000 cash assistance they received last week can barely tide them over for a week. Besides, the city is not selling the whole SRP property, but only a little over fifteen percent of the whole real estate assets. What is the point of holding on to the lots if they cannot bail out the marginal sectors of the city?

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There’s an event in Cebu City that does not seem to get the much needed support of the city and provincial government. I’m referring to the 3rd Cebu International Documentary Film Festival (CIDFF) which is slated on August 25 to August 30 in different venues around the city.

The media collaterals are all churned out by CIDFF organizers led by Professor Lilu Alino and Executive Director April Dequito. The CIDFF ladies have a very lean staff not to mention resources and bringing the international event to the attention of the local documentary film buffs and creative community can be very taxing. Putting the event in the national and international consciousness would require superhuman effort.

This is just my observation. I tried asking April why the city and the province don’t seem to have a presence in the CIDFF event but she corrected me, saying that the city and the province are working on it. Hinaut matabangan ni sa atong mayor og gobernador.

I am joining the 3rd CIDFF for the second time this year through the documentary titled, “The Workers’ Church,” a film that I wrote and directed for the benefit of the St. Joseph the Worker parish of Tabunok, Talisay City. I anchored the parish project in 2011 because I happened to live close by the parish which was then led by Monsignor Ruben Labajo. After a brief conversation wherein I signified to handle the project as a “love offering,” the good priest decided to spearhead the documentation to highlight the parish Golden Jubilee in August 19, 2012.

In the run up to finishing the project, a shakeup happened in the Cebu Archdiocese that saw Monsignor Ruben Labajo heading for Cebu’s major parish that tends the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral. Because of his new assignment, parishioners set aside plans for a local premiere showing of the documentary. However, God in his mysterious ways enabled not just a local but an international premiere for the documentary through the 3rd CIDFF.

Members of the media will have the opportunity to screen “A Workers’ Church” and other films on August 26, 2 p.m. at the Aegean Room of the Waterfront Hotel in Lahug. A public screening will be held on August 30, 3 p.m. at the Marcelo B. Fernan Press Center in Ecotech Road, Lahug.

Please check out the CIDFF website if you’re interested to watch. You need to register to get a viewer’s pass.

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