BOPK councilors’ turnaround

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014


In what can be considered a 180 degrees turn, some councilors identified with the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) have been reported to be supporting a resolution that will be tackled by the Cebu City Council today giving authority to Mayor Michael Rama to negotiate, for and in behalf of the city government, the disposal of lots in the South Road Properties (SRP) by sale through public bidding.

Among the BOPK councilors who supposedly signed the resolution were Gerardo Carillo, Noel Wenceslao, Eugenio Gabuya Jr., Richard Osmeña and Roberto Cabarrubias. A source said that two other BOPK councilors are for the resolution. Councilor Nestor Archival was reportedly set to sign it while Councilor Nida Cabrera expressed willingness to support it.

With the BOPK councilors “pushing” for the measure together with the five city councilors identified with Team Rama, the resolution seems to have garnered support from the majority of the 18-member city council.

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I say this would be a turnaround because my good cousin Noel himself once authored Ordinance 2332 passed in July 2012. The title of the measure: “An Ordinance Protecting the South Road Properties and Its Stakeholders from Unlawful and Unauthorized Transactions and Dealings.” In 2012, the BOPK majority in the council just didn’t want Rama to sell SRP lots.

People knew who was behind the passage of the said ordinance.

In interviews with reporters, BOPK chief Tomas Osmeña and his deputy, then vice mayor Joy Young, explained the logic of not selling those prime lots. The city should just wait until the SM City complex and the Filinvest project at the SRP starts operation and when the value of the unsold lots shoots up.

What wasn’t said was that the BOPK was thinking of an Osmeña return as mayor after the 2013 polls. The expectation was that Osmeña and not Rama, who was in his first term, would be the one to sell the lots. Unfortunately for the BOPK, Osmeña lost to Rama in the elections.

So how would one view this turnaround?

Incidentally, this is happening at a time when Osmeña is no longer openly criticizing Rama’s every move, when his wife, Councilor Margot, has been constantly travelling and no longer leading the BOPK charge and when the line between Team Rama and the BOPK in the city council has blurred in the discussion of certain issues, like funding the construction of a new Cebu City Medical Center.
Does the BOPK councilors’ move have the imprimatur of their boss then? Maybe.

But if you ask me, I am not inclined to believe in that proposition simply because the turnaround requires a swallowing of pride, something that contradicts Osmeña’s nature. He has long considered the SRP as his baby and wants to nurture its growth by his lonesome. Interestingly, this measure is being tackled while Tommy O and Margot are still in the US.

If this move didn’t have Tommy O’s imprimatur, are we seeing a breaking up of the BOPK majority in the city council? Have some of the BOPK councilors seen the writing on the wall and are now willing to act independently, the party boss be damned?

Okay, I am not prepared to go in that direction. The truth is, we still do not know what will actually happen in today’s city council session. What if the BOPK councilors who have shown signs of turning around won’t actually turn around? What if, by some twist, they would back off when the resolution is finally voted on?

What I am sure, however, is that the BOPK is no longer the BOPK that propped up Tommy O’s rule in the past and which, in 2013, managed to gain the city council majority even if its boss lost.

That was seen in the number of people that gathered when Tommy O and Margot jointly celebrated their birthdays recently. The support has dwindled. Meaning that, the political center of gravity is shifting.

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 13, 2014.

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