CEBU

Labella to close mayor’s offices in barangays

Edgardo Labella (File photo)

THE incoming Labella administration will no longer allow the operation of the barangay mayor’s office (BMO) in Cebu City’s 80 barangays because it is not provided under the law.

“At the very outset, it is really our position that this barangay mayor’s office is not provided under the Local Government Code. It is not in accordance with the existing law and rules. We will just have to follow what is in the law,” Mayor-elect Edgardo Labella told SunStar Cebu in a Facebook live interview.

Labella said that what the barangays need is a liaison officer who will serve as a bridge between villages and the City without usurping the functions of barangay officials.

When he assumed office in July 2016, Mayor Tomas Osmeña created the BMO as an extension of basic services from City Hall.

That same year, the City Council questioned its creation.

Councilor-elect Philip Zafra, who sat as ex-officio member of the council in 2016, said the BMO allowed private individuals to perform acts designated to elected barangay officials, such as issuing clearances and endorsements to residents as a requirement to avail themselves of assistance from the City Government, among others, which was highly questionable.

The council also requested the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) 7 to look into the BMO’s creation, function, duties and responsibilities to determine if these replicated the functions of barangay captains.

In a reply, DILG 7 said the BMO did not exist as Osmeña only created the Barangay Disaster Control Center (BDCC) through Executive Order 005.

Former DILG 7 director Rene Burdeos said BDCCs served as satellite offices of City Hall.

But the BMO’s specific tasks have never been clear, Zafra said. It is not known how many it employs in each barangay or how much the workers are paid, he said.

The outgoing barangay captain of Tisa said there are more than 10 BMO personnel with one chief in his barangay.

“Their function really is similar to the barangays and they (BMO employees) get to implement the programs of the City like the distribution of senior citizens’ financial assistance because I’m not allied with the current mayor,” he said.

In a Facebook post, Tisa BMO chief Carlo Fernandez thanked everyone who let him serve the barangay.

Fernandez said that with Osmeña’s loss, he will be officially “signing off.”

“The BMO will thus close for good by the week’s end. I will also be wrapping up my stint in public service, possibly earlier than the end of my term. To the Tisa-anons who supported us, thank you. To our staff, I’ll never forget our struggles and our victories,” he said. (RVC)


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