THE Sinulog made friends out of political enemies yesterday, at least during the awarding of winners of the Sinulog grand parade.

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña and Lahug Barangay Captain Mary Ann de los Santos not only shook hands and greeted each other they also kissed each other on the cheeks.

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But while he was being courteous to a political enemy, his sister and an opposition leader criticized him and his wife Margot for the distribution of food packs with her photo at the VIP area of the grandstand during the Sinulog grand parade last Sunday.

With Tomas running for south district representative, Margot is eyeing a south district city council seat.

Georgia, on the other hand, is running for mayor against incumbent Vice Mayor Michael Rama, whom Tomas anointed as his successor.

“They say the Sinulog shouldn’t be politicized, but they lied by politicizing it for their own gain. This shows how really dishonest they are,” Georgia said.

“I think what they mean when they say that there should be no politicking during the Sinulog, what they actually mean is there should be no politicking by people other than themselves.

Isn’t this grave abuse of the people’s money?

Using people’s money to advance their personal interests?” she added.

Georgia said distributing the lunch packs with Margot’s picture was tantamount to campaigning because she is running for city councilor.

“I think using the picture of the Sto. Niño would have been more appropriate,” Georgia said.

But the mayor said politics had nothing to do with it.

Tomas said it was his idea to put his wife’s photo on the food boxes distributed to some 400 guests last Sunday.

“I wanted the food packs to have a picture of the Sinulog, so I said, ah, you put Margot’s picture there. It was my idea, but it was not politicking because there were only 300 food packs and many of our guests are not even from here,” he said.

The food packs, which had a card that read “Viva Pit Señor... One beat. One Dance. One Vision,” were distributed in the morning, noon and in the afternoon.

The VIPs included foreign dignitaries and guests from sister cities abroad.

Tomas said giving their guests food packs with Margot’s face was not a way of campaigning, more so that most of the guests were not from Cebu City.

For his part, businessman Jonathan Guardo, who will run against Tomas for south district congressman, said the act was a “cheap trick.”

“It’s election time and politicians will use all their dirty tricks. But I think Margot doesn’t need it because she’s already popular. Whoever advised that cheap trick is an

idiot that should be thrown to the waters off SRP,” Guardo said.

Margot declined from commenting, saying she had nothing to do with it.

“It’s never been done before so I guess he’s really just teasing me,” she said.

Campaigning at the grandstand was prohibited by organizers, but some candidates in the May elections still went around to shake hands with the revelers, including presidential bet Sen. Richard Gordon and Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Bayani Fernando.

Meanwhile, in separate interviews, Tomas and de los Santos said they were just being polite to each other.

“It would have been disrespect if I did not approach the head of the city. It was a simply a gesture of good manners,” de los Santos said.

“It was just spontaneous and natural. The Sto. Niño can do wonders. It was in good faith,” she added.

She said that after she received the trophy and cash prize of Lahug Elementary School, which bagged fourth place in the Sinulog-based category, she had to pass by the mayor so it was but proper to approach him.

In a separate interview, the mayor said he was merely being cordial with de los Santos, who lost to the mayor in the 2007 elections.

“It was nothing, I was just being polite. I just stood up and greeted her. It’s a good PR,” Tomas said. (RHM/LCR)