THE administrative case filed by lawyer Florencio Villarin against Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña and 10 other city officials, including Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella, on the appointment of some city councilors as deputy mayors had us recalling lawyer Reymelio Delute. Delute also filed an administrative case against then mayor Michael Rama, Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella and majority of the city councilors for the release of calamity funds to City Hall employees in 2013.
In the Delute case, many believed that then private citizen Tomas Osmeña was behind it, considering that he would politically benefit from it. The complaint and the subsequent suspension of the respondents allowed City Councilor Margot Osmeña to assume the post of mayor (she was not included in the case). It is thus possible that some people would think former mayor Michael Rama is behind the Villarin case.
Admittedly, that could be a bit of a stretch because Villarin may actually be acting on his own. Besides, his intention could be honest. As a legal practitioner, he could just be seeking a clear delineation of the functions of the Office of the Mayor and the Cebu City Council. Osmeña appointing some city councilors as deputy mayors does seem to blur executive and legislative functions.
But let us leave to the lawyers for now the discussion on legality. What is obvious is that Mayor Osmeña created the position of deputy mayors because, one, the city council was controlled at that time by the opposition Barug Team Rama and, two, to lure opposition councilors to his side (Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan or BOPK). Note that when the position of deputy mayor was created, BOPK councilors didn’t have chairmanships in key city council committees.
But motivation aside, it is apparent that the setup has affected the quality of the work of the administration city councilors. They have been so engrossed in their tasks as deputy mayors that their legislative output and the quality of the measures that they have filed, if ever, have dipped. This is because the time that should have been spent on conceiving of ordinances and resolutions to address the needs of their constituents is already absorbed by their deputy mayor functions.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on October 21, 2017.
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