Wednesday, August 04, 2021

Seares: Tomas needs one more defector

THINGS brightened for Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña after the May 14 barangay and youth council (Sangguniang Kabataan) elections. BOPK dominated both polls, clinching the ABC and SK federation leaderships and two more seats in the City Council.

It has been an 8-8 vote in the city legislature with Vice Mayor Edgar Labella tilting the balance for the opposition Barug-PDP Laban. (Which was demonstrated in the May 10 City Council rejection of the P18 billion Kawit joint venture proposal, 9-8.)

BOPK already bagged the SK leadership and expects to get the post of ABC chairman. OK, grant the two seats by this June 30: the 8-8 figures would become 10-7 in BOPK’s favor by then. Even if the Court of Appeals would overturn the ombudsman order dismissing councilor Anthony James Cuenco or he’d give up his appeal, leading to his replacement by an opposition councilor, that would be 9-8, still in BOPK’s favor.

Change of vote

Inevitably, BOPK will have control of the City Council. But to reintroduce the Kawit project, which had been voted down, a councilor who voted against it must sponsor its return. A basic precept in Robert Rules of Order that’s in the City Council house rules.

Meaning, one of the eight opposition councilors who voted “no” to Kawit must flip. Tomas needs a defector who doesn’t have to change party coats, just his sponsorship of the Kawit deal revival and, of course, his change of votes.

How about suspending or changing the freaking rule? Tougher. For that, two-thirds vote is required; 11.33 votes once the SK seat is filled; 12 votes, if Cuenco comes back or is replaced by a member of his party.

Councilor Jose Daluz III who cited the legal barrier has reason to gloat over the probable derailment of Tomas’s timetable.

Lawsuit vs. three

The mayor is thus looking for other options, including the first he publicized: a complaint against three Barug-PDP Laban councilors (Renato Osmeña Jr., Raymond Garcia and Daluz). The three sat in the ad hoc committee that reviewed the deal, backed its April 24 report but voted against the City Council resolution that would’ve approved the Kawit deal. Tomas thinks they violated the law by changing their vote.

That’s pretty dicey though, “hanap” in the Cebuano-Bisaya colloquial. Junjun Osmeña and company may argue that what they recommended were not put into the terms contained in the resolution. Or, if the terms had been revised, the councilors had always been against it or they just changed their mind.

Tomas’s hope is to have the three “no” voters suspended. Besides the wobbly legal legs the case rests on, he may not be able to rush it. If his complaint is filed with the office of the president, the mayor no longer has the clout there when he had then mayor Mike Rama suspended twice, with impeccable timing. If it’s filed with the ombudsman, that could take ages.

Trinkets to dangle

More convenient would be to lure one more opposition councilor. Barug-PDP Laban is not exactly a solid fortress to scale. With its losses in the barangay and SK elections and the perception that Rama and Vice Mayor Labella are fighting over the mayor race in 2019, it’s vulnerable to another poaching by Tomas.

The mayor has trinkets to dangle, such as the “deputy mayor” title, committee chairmanships, and campaign funds and slots in the party ticket next year.


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