Absurdity and the CIPC-A A +A
Saturday, September 7, 2013
IF THERE'S something noteworthy in the current Cebu City Council, it is the absurdity with which it has been conducting its affairs. No, this is not a rap on its presiding officer, Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella. He could be Joy Augustus young and still the council would look absurd.
Take last Wednesday’s session when Team Rama Councilor Hanz Abella delivered a privilege speech that questioned the resignation more than a month (yes, more than a month) ago of five members of the board of trustees of the Cebu Investment Promotion Center (CIPC).
CIPC is promoting Cebu, including the South Road Properties (SRP) to investors and has been getting financial aid from the city government. For this year, it is supposed to get P5.4 million.
But CIPC has been identified more with its managing director, Joel Mari Yu, and former congressman (and former mayor) Tomas Osmeña. I doubt if many people know that respected businessmen like Geronimo Sta. Ana, Augusto Go, Rogelio Lim and Enrique Benedicto are in it, too.
So when Abella moved to have the five resigned board of trustees of the CIPC appear before the city council in an executive session and the majority councilors identified with Tomas’s Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) blocked it, I realized how absurd the council setup has become.
Why did the BOPK councilors block Abella’s motion?
Several sessions ago, the BOPK councilors came up with a “novel” move of looking into an audit report by the Commission on Audit (COA) that placed the administration of Mayor Michael Rama in a bad light as far as handling the city’s finances is concerned.
The intention was obviously to rub salt on a gaping wound, sort of. They even wanted to conduct the probe in a form of a public hearing, the better to spread the bad publicity. When that idea was flogged, they changed tack and grudgingly held an
executive session in its stead.
The council invited COA 7 auditors and the members of the local finance committee composed of the city administrator, city budget officer and city treasurer.
The committee members are, as we say, under the bunal of the mayor. They repeatedly snubbed the council’s invitation.
Rama obviously didn’t want to be party to the BOPK councilors’ publicity stunt. Besides, BOPK councilors have, in the past, been harsh to resource persons identified with the mayor.
So why did the BOPK councilors block Councilor Hanz Abella’s motion seeking to invite to the council session the five resigned members of the CIPC board of trustees? It’s for the same reason that prompted the mayor to prevent members of the local finance committee from accepting the city council’s invitation for them to attend its executive session.
Partisan politics and not public interest has continued to guide the actions of both BOPK-allied and Team Rama-aligned members of the city council. Abella is with Team Rama and the officials he wanted to summon are with an organization that, despite Yu’s objection to it, has been perceived as closer to the heart of Osmeña than to the heart of Rama.
I find interesting Mayor Michael Rama’s announcement that he won’t release the P5.4-million financial assistance for the CIPC this year. This is because it came with the announcement that the CIPC will no longer be the marketing arm of the SRP. That job will be taken by the SRP management office that he created.
Rama wants a “dedicated body” that will oversee the marketing and the whole operation of the SRP. He said this is consistent with the recommendation by a firm commissioned by the Japan International Cooperation Agency to study how the SRP should be run.
I don’t think, though, that Jica wants that “dedicated body” to be under the bunal of the mayor. Instead, that body should be shielded from partisan politics if it wants to succeed in its work.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 07, 2013.