Editorial: Making sense of city hall noise-A A +A
Thursday, August 29, 2013
CEBU City Councilor Margarita “Margot” Osmeña asked an interesting question following the press conference called by Mayor Michael Rama and his team to present their own view on the financial status of the Cebu City government. The move by Rama’s team stemmed from the publication by Osmeña’s husband Tomas of a paid advertisement about the same issue.
“They answered a one-page ad by my husband to the media and they will not answer us?” the councilor asked.
The “us” in her question referred to the city council, whose attempt to discuss the financial status of the city using an audit report of the Commission on Audit (COA) was jeopardized by the non-appearance of members of the local finance committee in executive sessions it called.
The city council is dominated by members of the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) headed by Tomas. Margot is the head of the city council’s committee on budget. That setup alone answers the seeming abhorrence by Rama’s team to attend hearings called by the city council.
The ideal is for the executive department to be at least civil to the city council and vice-versa. But the ideal situation wherein both sides show openness and objectivity is also not in place in the city.
What is in place instead is a propaganda war that can be considered an extension to the campaign period for the May 13 elections that should have ended after the winners were declared.
But the BOPK chief continues sniping from the sidelines and BOPK councilors are doing the same. Meanwhile, Rama and his team are waging their own propaganda campaign to counter what the BOPK is doing. This has produced a noise that, for their constituents, is grating to the ears.
However, city residents should learn to accept city hall’s polarized setup. Instead of plugging their ears with cotton, they should listen to the noise and try to recognize the sound of the truth in the exchange. In a verbal joust, bits of the truth can be found in the contending arguments.
The financial status of the city, for example, can’t be established by being too dependent on the COA audit report, which has its own limitations.
One also needs to listen to the explanation of Rama and his team. It is only then that the actual situation can be gleaned.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 29, 2013.