Pickpockets

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Saturday, January 11, 2014


THE bad news is that the Cebu City Government doesn’t have enough money. The good news is that Mayor Mike Rama did not steal it.

No, the city is not bankrupt. It is just experiencing cash flow problems. That is why Rama firmly committed to only P6,000 as financial assistance to each of the 60,000 registered senior citizens this year. He had promised them P12,000 each, but he intimated that he they will get the balance only if the city’s financial position improves.

I’m not sure what caused the shortfall. Fiscal mismanagement? An obstructionist city council? You tell me. But I am absolutely certain about what/who did not cause it: a corrupt mayor.

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You can accuse Rama of many faults and weaknesses but the one thing he is not guilty of is corruption. Nine years a councilor, nine years a vice mayor and he is now on his fifth year as city mayor but I still have to hear his name tainted by scandal or associated with a shady deal. Our mayor, and I am proud to say this, is clean.

But that does not change the fact that we have a money problem at City Hall and that Rama and his economic team have to think out of the box to address it.

He cannot continue to blame the city council for not allowing him to sell the South Road Properties. He can pray that the councilors will have a change of heart but in the meantime, he should study other options.

His new city administrator has spoken about the need to generate more revenues. That is a good start.

Are there untapped revenue sources? How efficient is our tax collection? And just as importantly, how good have we been at housekeeping? Were there expenses that we could have done without?

We have an honest mayor but, as Mike must have realized by now, that alone does not guarantee the city’s financial health.

***

Thank God, the practice of reading the name of every major sponsor during the novena masses at the Basilica has been stopped. In its place, is a general acknowledgment, usually done by the lector, of the generosity of the people who supported the celebration. The act is classy and restores the solemnity of the mass.

I also like the idea of the lector introducing the priest celebrant. Yesterday, for example, I would not have known that it was my friend, Fr. Charles Jayme, who was the homilist until the lector thanked him at the end of the mass.

Listening to Fr. Charles’ sharing was a very pleasant and fulfilling experience. The beauty of it all is that he did not crack any pedestrian joke to catch and keep our attention. I look forward to having more of the same experience in future masses.

Not that everyone who goes to mass does so to listen to the homily. I read in yesterday’s Sun.Star Cebu that security cameras at the Basilica caught at least three women picking the pockets of churchgoers. The chief of the Waterfront Police Station, under whose jurisdiction the Basilica belongs, described the women as young, pretty and “sosyal og dagway” (please help me with the translation).

TV 5’s Aksyon Bisaya also reported on Friday that a pickpocket from Ormoc City was arrested and that four stolen cellular phones were recovered from his possession. I watched him cry on TV, begging for forgiveness from his victims. He was neither young, good-looking or “sosyal.”

I would like to believe that that was not why he was arrested while the three women were not. But I have a hard time figuring out how three women who were observed stealing on CCTV could have eluded arrest despite the presumed presence of so many policemen near the crime scene. It doesn’t give you much reassurance, does it?

(frank.otherside@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 12, 2014.

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