Independent bloc in city council?

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Monday, July 21, 2014


A COUPLE of weeks ago, I heard rumors that a number of Cebu City councilors were forming an independent bloc in reaction to the filing of an administrative complaint against them and former mayor Tommy Osmeña’s admission that the complainant, lawyer Reymelio Delute, cleared it with him.

If we believe the rumors, the majority councilors were very disappointed after Osmeña allegedly told them that any inconvenience or punishment that they would suffer as a result of the administrative case should be regarded as “collateral damage.”

The reports gained ground after the councilors, some of whom are lawyers, agreed to
file a common answer to the complaint with Mayor Mike Rama and Vice Mayor Edgar Labella. The vice mayor, a former official of the Office of the Ombudsman, did much of the spadework in the preparation of the answer.

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My sources said that in forming the independent bloc, the councilors were laying the ground for their eventual defection from the BO-PK to Team Rama.

But last week, the city council overwhelmingly rejected Mayor Mike Rama’s veto of the solo parent ordinance. The so-called independent bloc failed to make its presence felt. The city councilors still voted according to the original party lines.

However, the veto override was just for show, one of my sources assured me. The independent bloc was real, he said. Just watch their body language.

We may not have to wait long for the councilors to show their new political colors, assuming that such were the case. With the Supreme Court decision removing all doubts on the city’s ownership of the South Road Properties (SRP), Rama can bring matters to a head by reviving his request for authority to sell some of the SRP lots.

The city council has steadfastly rejected previous attempts by Rama to sell portions of the SRP. In fact, they even passed an ordinance that essentially barred the mayor from even negotiating with potential SRP investors. Not surprisingly, the council’s stand coincided with Osmena’s own position not to touch the SRP until current developers, SM and Filinvest, had completed their projects in the area in order to cash in on the anticipated increase in the land valuation.

Thus, if indeed the majority councilors are poised to cut their political umbilical cord to Osmeña, then there could be no more unequivocal way to signal or express it than to take a contrary stand on an emotional issue that is the sale of the SRP. I hope that Rama will throw down the gauntlet on the BOPK councilors so that we will know whether the alleged breakaway is true or plain idle talk.

Regardless of how the rumors develop, we have to thank Delute for stirring things up at City Hall. Maybe, he or someone else noticed that the city council was beginning to look like a company union and wanted to do a loyalty check.

I say this because his complaint does not clearly define the particular act that the respondents committed to earn them administrative spanking.

Was it the giving or the receiving of the cash assistance? If it were the former then all those who had a hand in passing the ordinance that appropriated P20,000 for each employee of the city government should get the axe.

If it were the latter, then all the employees who accepted the money should get the ax without exception. Note can be taken of those who returned the money after Delute filed his complaint. The belated discovery of conscience will not help.

And what does Delute mean by “manufactured calamity”? Some of us still have nightmares of the earth shaking violently during the 7.2 magnitude earthquake on Oct. 15 or of the fierce Yolanda winds that lashed Cebu after killing thousands in Leyte.

Surely, he is not saying that those two tragedies were not real but manufactured.

(frank.otherside@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 22, 2014.

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