There’s a new city council majority

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Sunday, August 17, 2014


LET'S cut the pretense. There is a new majority in the Cebu City Council.

The four BOPK members who cast their lot with Mayor Michael Rama should stop feigning surprise on the obvious snub by former mayor Tomas Osmeña, who did not invite them to a meeting that he called after the council voted to authorize Rama to sell the South Road Properties (SRP).

Councilors Gerry Carillo, Bobby Cabarrubias, Noel Wenceslao and Ritchie Osmeña know Osmeña very well. He would not brook any defiance.

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The BOPK is not a political party, Osmeña once said. Indeed, it is not.

Rather, it is a loose association of politicians who owe their election to him. That is why he has kept a tight grip of the council until recently and that is how he was able to put a monkey wrench on many of the programs of the Rama administration.

Councilor Sisinio Andales, one of those who voted against the sale of the SRP, says he has advised Osmeña not to make any drastic moves against Carillo et al. Good luck, Bebs. You know how Osmeña reacts to what he perceives as acts of treachery.

And we’re talking of the SRP, his baby, according to Osmeña himself. The man must have been livid the moment he heard that his wards had made it possible for his archenemy to tinker with what he sees as his legacy to the Cebuanos.

So stop engaging in wishful thinking that you’re still one group, Bebs. No, you’re not. Your group has lost Carillo and company. They’re not one of you anymore. They’ll probably band themselves as an “independent bloc” for a while before formalizing their switch to the Rama camp.

I’ve heard about this – the shifting of loyalties – long before lawyer Reymelio Delute sought administrative sanctions by Malacañang against all the elected City Hall officials, save for a few councilors, for approving and/or accepting the calamity assistance in the amount of P20,000.

There are ties that bind. Remember that Osmeña and the vice mayor, Edgardo Labella, once served in the council. Some of the incumbent councilors were their colleagues. They, of course, deny that there was any courtship. Maybe, not formally. But to say that it did not take place is another delusion.

Delute’s complaint was the tipping point. It provided the opening for Team Rama to show how vastly different they treat their allies. The BOPK councilors were already disappointed that they were sued by someone who wore their same political color. Disappointment turned to frustration after Osmeña allegedly told them that they were “collateral damage.”

Carillo, Wenceslao, Cabarubbias and Osmeña insist that they were merely following their conscience in authorizing Rama to strike deals on the SRP. Baloney. Not very long ago, all of them voted to deprive Rama the authority to even talk with potential investors in the SRP. The claim of a belated discovery of conscience is feeble and insulting.

If there is anything certain that can be said about the circumstances leading to their complete turnaround, it is that they weighed the political costs. Here, the implication is not at all flattering to Osmeña. They have turned their back on their political patron. They defied him. If this had happened in the past, the act would have constituted signing their political death warrant.

That was the time when only one vote counted in the Cebu City elections – Osmeña’s. Carillo and company must be thinking that those days are over. After all, not only had Rama beaten Osmeña in 2013, he had also outwitted his mentor in subsequent political battles such as the barangay, ABC and councilors’ league elections.

Osmeña has lost his grip of the council. The 2016 elections should tell whether he has completely lost his grip of the city, too.

***

(frank.otherside@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 17, 2014.

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