Sunday, June 16, 2019

Nalzaro: Espina, a true gentleman

CEBU City south district Councilor Erik Espina announced yesterday his intention to resign from the City Council effective Jan. 1 next year and turn over his seat to former councilor James Anthony Cuenco. Espina also announced that he is not pursuing his bid for a council seat in next year’s election, a decision that shocked his colleagues in the Barug PDP-Laban.

Espina, son of former Cebu governor and former senator Rene Espina, was appointed to the City Council last July replacing Cuenco, who was at that time ordered dismissed by the Ombudsman for the questionable purchase of medicines under the medical program of his father, former south district congressman Antonio Cuenco.

Espina is a TV talk show host, newscaster and columnist. He was recommended by Barug Team Rama, through the United Nationalist Alliance, to replace Cuenco. But prior to that, they agreed that in the event Cuenco would be cleared of the charges by the Court of Appeals (CA) and if Cuenco is willing to return, Espina would give the post back to him.

Cuenco was cleared by the CA last month. The Ombudsman’s order dismissing him was reversed. True to his promise, Espina is paving the way for Cuenco’s return to the City Council this January, five months before the May elections. Espina said he would vacate the position as agreed without even waiting for the order of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

“And so, in keeping with the covenant I willingly made with Cuenco to readily vacate the seat that I kept temporarily warm but duly belongs to him as councilor of this great City of Cebu, I am tendering my irrevocable resignation to take effect Jan. 1, 2019, no longer waiting for any DILG order to be presented as previously agreed,” part of Espina’s statement said.

I appreciate that. He is really a man of honor, a principled man and a true gentleman. Six months in the council and he is still humble and the greed for power did not go into his head. Dili sama sa uban nga nakatilaw na sa gahum, nahigam na.

But what shocked Espina’s colleagues in the opposition, including Barug PDP-Laban chair and mayoral candidate Edgardo Labella, was Espina’s decision to withdraw from the electoral race. “With my voluntary resignation, my moral obligation to be a candidate for Barug PDP-Laban is extinguished. I am officially withdrawing from the ticket. There are other more qualified names that can easily replace me,” he said.

I asked him about it in my radio program in DYSS, where he announced these developments. He simply said, “I have only a good name to protect as my inheritance and this allows me my strongest freedom.” There were speculations that what prompted his withdrawal were “squabbles” within the party and supposed survey results that show his “poor ratings.” But Espina denied such allegations. He said he is in the “magic eight” in various surveys.

Labella, who was shocked by Espina’s announcement, said he would talk to him to persuade him to reconsider his decision. Being a friend (and on a personal note), I am also appealing to Espina to reconsider his decision. We need people of your caliber in the council, (Reserved) Brig. Gen. Erik Espina, Sir.


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