Depoliticizing services in the barangays
When Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña ordered the withdrawal of ambulances from all of the city’s barangays, he was met with opposition, as expected, from rival Team Rama-allied officials who filed a complaint at the Ombudsman-Visayas.
Perhaps sensing that the public might view his order as heavy-handed and arrogant, a description that accompanied him during his previous years at City Hall, Osmeña explained on his Facebook page that he was assessing all the ambulances to determine if they are still in running condition and if they can be entrusted to the barangays that have owned them.
Setting aside his inclination to naturally issue the ambulances to his favored political allies, the mayor disclosed that he plans to have all ambulances under the Emergency Rescue Unit Foundation (Eruf), which will be contracted to deal with emergency situations in Cebu City’s 80 barangays.
In that respect, the mayor’s plan makes good, practical sense if only to prevent barangay officials from either the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BO-PK) or Team Rama from using the ambulances as props to advertise themselves as efficient, reliable “public servants deserving of the votes” of their constituents.
Last week’s distribution of seniors’ cash assistance was a prime example of self-promotion by wannabe candidates for the October barangay elections. How and why lawyer Reymelio Delute, who filed a case against former Cebu City mayor Michael Rama, Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella and the City Council in relation to the P20,000 calamity aid case, was allowed to handle the cash distribution in Basak San Nicolas, one can only wonder and ask Mayor Osmeña, who would likely brush it aside and say it was his prerogative.
That need for self-promotion by locally and nationally elected officials is evident in all cases of local and national emergencies in which these officials personally supervise the distribution of aid in order to be seen, heard and work the crowd of voters.
There’s also Mayor Osmeña’s claim that the ambulances were mostly left unused or parked near the barangay halls. As to whether or not Team Rama-allied barangay officials can answer that, only they know.
Eruf’s status as an emergency responder in Cebu City and Metro Cebu is substantial enough that they may be contracted by Cebu City Hall to use the city’s ambulances to support their own fleet of emergency vehicles and equipment and expand their operations.
We hope Eruf’s closer involvement will complement the existing emergency rescue and relief command center at Cebu City Hall as well as the disaster risk reduction management councils in the barangays.
There’s no need for competition and political grandstanding when emergency rescue and relief operations are handled by career service personnel and private groups that have proven their commitment and excellence in this field.
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