(Related News Sense column: “Six deputy mayors, two acting mayors,” July 29, 2016)
SINCE Cebu City Councilor Pastor Alcover Jr. complained last Aug. 25, 2016 before the Visayas Ombudsman against Mayor Tomas Osmeña’s appointment of six deputy mayors, we’ve heard these reasons for creating the position:
 To give BOPK councilors who didn’t have committee chairmanships something important to do;
 To express his confidence in the said BOPK councilors, in a way telling the public that he didn’t trust Team Rama councilors.
Lure to BOPK
After the complaint, which Alcover lumped with three other charges, Councilor Margot Osmeña, one of the deputy mayors, said it is no plantilla position and they don’t sign any document and (presumably) get no extra pay. Not admitted publicly is that Mayor Tomas used the “deputy mayor” title to help lure would-be defectors to BOPK.
If it is what many people think it is, the position is honorary and an ego-massaging exercise. It’s not expressly authorized by law and can create confusion and diminish the department head’s authority.
Among the six deputy mayors, only one seems to be busy playing “mayor-mayor,” gauging from the number of times he lands in the news: “Mayor-Kons” Dave Tumulak. As to the rest -- who include the mayors wife Margot, Mary Ann de los Santos, Joy Young. Eugenio Gabuya, Sisinio Andales and Alvin Arcilla -- Mayor Tomas expressed his disappointment. The slacker apparently is the deputy mayor who processes aid for earthquake victims and survivors of casualties in the Abu Sayaff raid in Bohol.
What do deputy mayors exactly do? News stories announcing creation of the office and naming the appointees didn’t tell the public much. The mayor only said deputy mayors will review proposals from the City Council. That function apparently can slow down City Hall work, which the current gripe of the mayor tends to show.
On Tomas’s beef about delay in processing, do deputy mayors take part in the paper work? Whose job was that if there were no “mayor-mayor”? Margot said deputy mayors don’t sign anything, which by the way hardly assures accountability.
And snafus point to the need for a set-up that defines clearly the job and specifies the person responsible.
The ombudsman still has to rule on Jun Alcover’s complaint. Is there usurpation of function? What happens to the principle of checks and balance the democratic system encourages? The ruling might touch only on whether the mayor committed an unlawful act.
If Tomas decides to recall the title, it won’t make Jun Alcover’s complaint moot. Resolving the issue will guide future mayors on limits to creativity in managing City Hall.
Meantime, the joke, a variation on the exhausted quip about lawyers, still draws a laugh: “Mayor pa ka, Mayor-Kons?”
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on August 03, 2017.
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