Deja vu

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Sunday, July 6, 2014


WILL “Daang Matuwid” strike again? A stalwart of the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK), lawyer Reymelio Delute, has filed a case against 14 Cebu City officials for what he described as “illegal appropriation” of calamity assistance to City Hall employees, including Mayor Michael Rama and members of the City Council in December last year.

Cebu City was partly affected by the earthquake that badly damaged Bohol Province in October last year and by super typhoon Yolanda that ravaged a big chunk of Eastern Visayas and the northern tip of Cebu Province in November. A resolution passed by the City Council and approved by the mayor appropriated P20,000 to each City Hall employee.

“It’s distressing to see city funds being spent for aid to beneficiaries not in real distress, without screening and authenticating whether the recipients were true victims of the calamities, resulting to wastage and misuse of government fund,” Delute said. The complaint was filed not with the Office of the Ombudsman but with the Office of the President.

Delute ran for barangay captain under the BOPK in Barangay Basak San Nicolas against Rama’s cousin, George, but lost. So his link to BOPK chief and the mayor’s bitter political rival, former mayor Tomas Osmeña is not a secret. In fact, a report from The Freeman had Osmeña admitting that he gave the go signal to Delute to file the administrative case.

As expected, Delute pushed for the preventive suspension of the officials listed in his complaint. If that happens, the City won’t be served by its elected mayor, vice mayor and majority of the city councilors for at most three months.

First off, I would say that the basis of Delute’s complaint is legitimate. I am one of those who criticized the City Council and the mayor for making it appear like City Hall employees were victimized by the two calamities when they weren’t. The assistance
was given during the Christmas season, a point that betrayed its true intention.

But I don’t consider Delute’s intention as honest either. I heard that Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella ask why the complaint wasn’t lodged with the ombudsman. The answer to that is a no-brainer. It’s difficult to get a suspension in the anti-graft office considering its composition. But Malacañang is run by Liberal Party (LP) stalwarts.

BOPK is an ally of the LP.

It’s the same scheme that the LP used in wresting control of the Provincial Capitol from then governor Gwendolyn Garcia months before the 2013 elections. It’s the same scheme used by the LP in Cebu Province recently in temporarily wresting control of Dumanjug town from its mayor, Nelson Garcia, who not surprisingly is Gwen’s brother.

It is not mere coincidence that the secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government is Mar Roxas, expected to be President Noynoy Aquino’s anointed in the 2016 presidential polls. P-Noy and Roxas colluded to have Garcia suspended. They can collude to have Rama, Labella and the concerned councilors suspended. Rama and Labella are not allies of P-Noy and Roxas.

The argument is that the complaint must not be sinister because some BOPK councilors were included in it. But while there is logic in that, I also find interesting the non-inclusion of Councilor Margarita “Margot” Osmeña, the BOPK chief’s wife, in the complaint. Rumors have been swirling that Margot, and not Tomas will run against Rama in 2016. What will happen if the 14 officials that Delute charged will be suspended and Margot is not?

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 07, 2014.

Opinion

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