Editorial: Shifting gears

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Saturday, January 4, 2014


CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama seems determined to improve his running of the affairs of City Hall this year with the revamp of that he announced last Jan. 2. The move can be considered surprising because it affected higher-level positions of the city’s bureaucracy.

The mayor, who is fond of acronyms, said the revamp is in keeping with his goal in 2014, which is SOSS (show of super service). That’s a muddled way of saying he wants to raise his administration’s quality of work.

Interestingly, the one person most affected by the move is the mayor’s long-time aide, former city administrator Jose Marie Poblete, who now heads the Department of Engineering and Public Works. Replacing him is Engr. Eugene Elizalde, who was formerly with the Police Coordinating and Advisory Council.

This change is crucial because the city administrator essentially runs City Hall. He develops plans and strategies that, upon approval of the mayor, he also implements (Local Government Code). He coordinates the work of all city hall officials and links up with the city council.

While Poblete may have done his job, he wasn’t exceptional. When he was administrator, the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) dominated city council was able to put the executive on the defensive especially on questions about revenue generation and budgeting.

Considering that the BOPK strategy seems to be directed at portraying the mayor as an inept fiscal manager and the city government as bankrupt, Rama needs to have an exceptional manager and administrator by his side. Will Elizalde deliver?

Also, this year is important for Rama’s second term as mayor. The year after an election is the time when the politicking lessens. It surges again the year before an election, which is 2015 or next year.

The mayor needs to implement his major plans this year because by next year the BOPK councilors and their chief, former congressman Tomas Osmeña, will be more aggressive in blocking his programs and projects.

This is what the mayor meant when talked about a “need” and of having a “gut feel” when he explained to reporters the logic behind the revamp. He knows that if he wants his administration to stay relevant until 2016, the crucial time to shift gear is this year.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 04, 2014.

Opinion

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