BOPK councilors’ turnaround

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Monday, July 14, 2014


REMELIIO DELUTE, a losing Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) barangay election candidate, must be smiling at the way the complaint he filed with the Office of the President against Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella and a majority of members of the Cebu City Council is churning. “Na-shot sa taro,” as we Cebuanos would say.

“Na-shot sa taro” does not refer to the BOPK councilors but to Team Rama stalwarts.

They are being placed on the defensive by an initiative that emanated from the BOPK.

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And the worry that they will be the ones who will be hit by it can no longer be set aside due to recent developments.

After Delute filed the administrative case, BOPK councilors began shifting course.

Councilor Alvin Dizon was the first; he returned the P20,000 he received in December last year as calamity assistance. Following suit were Councilors Roberto Cabarrubias and Eugenio Gabuya.

Another BOPK councilor, Nida Cabrera, was quoted by another newspaper as saying that she will ask a member of her staff to return her P20,000. Cabrera is reportedly on an official trip to Germany.

It wasn’t mere coincidence that still another newspaper reported former mayor Tomas Osmeña, the BOPK chieftain, as saying that he admires the councilors who returned their calamity assistance. “At least naganahan g’yud ko sa ilang reaction pag-uli sa kuwarta kay they have already realized nga dili diay sila makasalig sa mayor,” he was quoted as saying.

What Osmeña didn’t say is that the act of his councilors weakened the defense of Rama and the city council re: the giving of the calamity assistance especially to the 4,200 city hall employees. Labella, who is among the legal minds mapping out the city officials’ legal moves, has admitted being worried about it.

Consider the reason of Dizon and Cabarrubias for returning the money. They mentioned the adverse public opinion and the “cloud of doubt” over the validity of the releases that surfaced. If they themselves are already doubtful of the legality of the distribution of the financial assistance, how can their legal defense be strong?

To be fair, other BOPK councilors may not follow the lead of Dizon, Cabarrubias, Gabuya and Cabrera. Councilor Gerardo Carillo, a lawyer, said that until the Commission on Audit (COA) issues a disallowance, then there is no basis for them to return the money.

By the way, the resolution calling for the giving of the calamity aid was not sponsored by a Team Rama councilor but by Councilor Sisinio Andales, who is with the BOPK. I still have to hear of Andales saying he will return the P20,000 he received.

Even then, we can already see the irony: this is a BOPK initiative questioned by a BOPK member and whose defense BOPK councilors are jeopardizing.

Which brings me back to my question about motives. We have seen a similar thing play out in the case of former governor Gwendolyn Garcia, when President Noynoy Aquino, based on the recommendation of Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, suspended her for six months. PNoy and Roxas are allies of Osmeña and the BOPK.

Rama and Labella have expressed confidence that PNoy won’t be politicking on this issue. But who knows? Suspending them would benefit those whom Delute did not charge, and they include Councilor Margot Osmeña, the BOPK chief’s wife. (In the case of Garcia, the vice governor, an LP stalwart in the province, took over as acting governor).

For Rama, Labella and the others, they can use a Cebuano word when viewing the possibility of their being suspended: “simbako.”

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 15, 2014.

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