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Sinulog liquor ban: A test of Labella’s leadership

By: Atty. Ruphil F. Bañoc - CDN Digital | January 03,2020 - 08:27 AM

In Cebu City, the events are running so fast. People are so busy from the All Saints’ Day, Christmas celebration up to the New Year’s celebration. Right after the New Year’s celebration we are again  preoccupied with the Sinulog Festival preparation.

This year is the first Sinulog Festival for Mayor Edgardo Labella as the Cebu City’s chief executive. Although all the activities relative to the Sinulog are not new to him having been in public service for many years already, but this time is totally different, he being the main captain of the city.

There are two aspects in the Sinulog celebration: the religious aspect and the socio-cultural and tourism promotional aspect. For the religious aspect, the Augustinian priests at the Basilica del Santo Niño are the ones in-charge of the activities. While there is the Sinulog Foundation and the so called Sinulog Governing Board backed up by the city government for the Sinulog mardi gras and other related activities.

For the purely religious activities, I understand there are changes in the route of the solemn procession this year as compared to the previous years. The preparation for the 500 years of Christianity in 2021 might be given the considerations by the Augustinians.

Last year, there were changes already in the route for fluvial procession that made the three cities, namely, Lapu-lapu, Mandaue and Cebu participate actively in the activities.  Unlike in the previous years where only Mandaue and Cebu Cities are involved.

As to the Sinulog mardi gras, we still have to see the result now where there are two entities tasked to handle the activities: the Sinulog Foundation and the so called Sinulog Governing Board. Let us see if the result is better this year when two are in-charge.

As to the important peace and order aspects, former Mayor Tomas Osmeña effectively implemented the liquor ban within the 300 meter radius from the route of the parade. It was very effective to keep the city in order and to make our visitors feel safe while they were in the city.

To recall, former Cebu City mayor Osmeña issued an executive order (EO) that prohibited the selling and drinking of liquor within 300 meters of the Sinulog parade route.  Such order includes the prohibition of entertainment such as street parties, events, concerts, shows, and etcetera.

Many appreciated the political will of the former mayor. Prior to this, drank people roamed anywhere, causing trouble that could affect innocent people.

I suggest that those good practices from the previous administration should be continued. The bad practices, if there was any, should be discarded. I hope what is good for the Cebuaos and visitors should be given considerations.

Implementing a liquor ban needs a lot of political will because it will financially hurt some businessmen, of the owners the establishments affected by the order. Also there are people who could not understand the spirit of the order.

This is the challenge on the part of the present mayor’s political will. It is not a question of who originated the idea on liquor ban, but on how to continue implementing the same.

If Labella can implement the same way Osmeña did, as he is reportedly inclined to, people would think that he is good enough, and that the former mayor is not needed anymore. But if he cannot implement it, there might be chaos like what we experienced before, then people might be longing for the leadership and political will of the former mayor.

Labella’s political will, will be tested this year.

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