Eyes and ears

|August 01,2016 - 11:23 PM


There’s a practical logic to Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña’s order directing City Administrator Veronica Morelos to assume as acting co-mayor with Vice Mayor Edgar Labella.

To put it bluntly, it stems from politics. Having ordered the recall of all city vehicles, firearms and the refund of cash allowances to barangay officials, Osmeña only wants to make sure that these orders aren’t rescinded by Labella while he undergoes a medical checkup in the US this month.

The appointment of Morelos was done ahead of the mayor’s birthday vacation with his wife Councilor Margot Osmeña in Japan late last month. Again, to be fair, the mayor’s suspicion of “funny business” by the opposition is justified in light of recent events.

That would have to be the City Council’s decision to appoint Labella as the city’s representative to the Mega Cebu project after Osmeña declared that Cebu City would leave the program.

Since the council is dominated by the Team Rama bloc, the mayor certainly wants all bases covered. Since complaints about the recall of all vehicles and the termination of barangay health workers remain pending at the Ombudsman-Visayas, almost anything can happen.

Morelos herself confirmed this by saying that any document and transactions that will be approved by Labella would have to go through her office. In fact the first thing Osmeña did after arriving from Japan was ask the City General Services Office if any vehicles were used by his political opponents while he was away.

If Labella bristled at the thought of sharing power with Morelos, he certainly didn’t show it and we would like to believe, based on how he conducted himself during and after the suspension order was imposed on him and other Team Rama allies, that he isn’t one to make an issue out of it.

The vice mayor reinforced this perception by stating that under the law, while the Local Government Code didn’t specify if appointing two co-acting mayors is allowed, it goes without saying that it is the elected official who eventually assumes as acting mayor.

By appointing Morelos as acting co-mayor, Osmeña simply wants an extra pair of eyes and ears to monitor any actions or decisions made by Labella that he would consider to be contrary to his policies and programs.

Should Cebu City residents be bothered by this? Not if they happen to take an anal interest in City Hall’s political circus.

What would concern them is if the mayor takes his turf war with the opposition Team Rama bloc too far as in preventing the allocation of services and programs to barangays identified with them as his critics have accused him of doing once he reassumed his post.

Otherwise, they should take both the mayor and his political rivals to task for indulging in too much partisan politics to the detriment of their welfare.

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