An act of cowardice

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Sunday, July 13, 2014


IN MY column last Saturday, I wrote about the Cebu City councilors who returned the calamity assistance they received following the administrative complaint filed before the Office of the President.

First to do so was Councilor Alvin Dizon, followed by Roberto “Bob” Cabarrubias and then Eugenio “Jun” Gabuya. One of Dizon’s staff members also returned his share. I don’t know if it was really his own decision or he was just influenced by the councilor. But what about the other staff of Dizon? Will they also return their share? I doubt it.

Dizon e-mailed me his explanation for returning the money. And in the spirit of fair play and fairness, I am publishing his thoughts:

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“This is in response to your column in Sun.Star Cebu dated July 12, 2014. I decided to return the calamity assistance I received from the City Government last December for the following reasons:

“First, there is a ‘cloud of doubt’ on the legality of the calamity aid after an administrative complaint was filed before the Office of the President against our elected city officials, including myself. While the issue of legality of the disbursement is yet to be resolved, it is only proper that I will return the money to the City’s public coffer. Let me also point out that I am fully aware that my act of returning the money would not, in any way, exempt me from any possible consequences. The complaint was already filed and I am ready to answer the accusations.

“The second reason which is equally important is that as an elected public official, it is incumbent upon me to be sensitive to ‘informed public opinion.’ Public opinion is important in a functioning democracy since this serves as a checking mechanism of the propriety or impropriety of official acts that we do as public leaders. More so that this issue involves the use of public funds. Thank you and more power, Sir Bob.”

Okay, first thing first. Dizon said there is a “cloud of doubt” as to the legality of the assistance following the complaint filed by Delute before the Office of the President.

Who can declare that an appropriation ordinance is illegal? I think only the Commission on Audit (COA) can. That is why we hear a lot about disallowances. Why not wait for the COA to declare the appropriation illegal?

Second on public opinion. That appropriation ordinance was passed last December and the following day they lined up at the City Treasurer’s Office to get their share or at the ATM. When the ordinance was passed, the media was already talking about it. I was one of those who raised the issue: Are they (City Hall officials and employees) entitled to receive calamity assistance when Cebu City was not badly damaged by typhoon Yolanda?

If Dizon was feeling the heat because of public opinion and if he had any delicadeza, then he should have waived his right like Margot Osmeña and Lea Japson did. Sensitive to public opinion after seven months? Oh come on. I appreciate Margot and Lea because right there and there, they waived their right to the assistance even though they supported the ordinance. Dili lang sila hangol ug kuwarta.

Gabuya and Cabarrubias also returned their share because of public opinion. But Gabuya said he was entitled to receive the amount because his house was damaged by Yolanda. Naa ra man diay na konsihal. Unya nganong i-uli man nimo? Installment pa.

What’s Delute’s cause of action? On the passage of the appropriation or on the act of receiving the calamity assistance? Let him charge the 5,000 City Hall employees who received the financial assistance.

What Dizon, Gabuya and Cabarrubias did was a show of cowardice. Because somebody charged them, they backed off from their earlier stand and principle. If you think that the passage of that ordinance was legal, aboveboard and moral, then by all means, stand your ground. Maninindigan. Mga wala kayong bayag.

(bobby.nalzaro@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 14, 2014.

Opinion

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