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Tuesday, July 23, 2019
CEBU

Bzzzzz: 'Only one official' decided bus ban at Mambaling underpass

SunStar File

PEOPLE are talking about...

* SENATE PRESIDENT TITO SOTTO'S REMARK ABOUT TAGGING FISH AS PINOY OR CHINESE. Difficult, Senator Sotto said in an ANC interview, as fishes migrate to the Philippines and vice versa. They're underwater and they travel; how would one determine which are Filipino and which are Chinese?

Sotto was referring to the controversy over Chinese fishermen fishing in waters that are exclusive economic zones of the Philippines. Before Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin Jr. could call him "bobo," Sotto clarified that he was kidding, "I said it tongue in cheek."

But the news reports of the interview didn't say he was anything but serious. The change in meaning came only after he received flak for "being insensitive" to the fisher folk whose boat was sunk by the Chinese -- and for being dumb.

* "NOT ME. MY BROTHER BEN." In reply to criticism for slamming the donation of P500,000 by former foreign affairs secretary Albert del Rosario to the Filipino fishermen whose boat was sunk by a Chinese fishermen, Mon Tulfo said it was not he "who stole P60 million." "You're referring to my brother Ben."

Buses at the underpass

The dry run at the newly opened underpass in Barangay Mambaling, Cebu City -- scheduled Friday, June 28, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. -- aims to find out if the presence of buses will affect the traffic situation in the area.

The ban on buses at the underpass at the intersection of Natalio Bacalso Ave. and F. Llamas St. started last June 15, the same day the facility was opened. The buses have been rerouted to the South Road Properties since almost two years or 22 months ago when work on the P638 million underpass started.

Findings of the experiment may support the continuation of the ban, revision of rules, or lifting of the prohibition. The bus operators association CPBMTC, led by Julito Flores, has been vigorously protesting against the ban, arguing that it was unnecessary and reduced the transport vehicles' earning capacity. The dry run, Flores said, will also enable them to help adopt measures that will ease traffic congestion without hurting the bus industry (translation: without the ban).

Decision after dry-run

An interesting side note to the ban on buses is this story that a city councilor who lives near the underpass was responsible for the rule. After almost two years of suffering from the terrible traffic situation in the area, during the period of construction, and even long before that, the councilor was overheard commenting, "I would like to enjoy 'no traffic' for some time."

But which authority ordered the ban? CTO, the city office in charge of traffic, reportedly said it was the councilor. But can he do that without the approval of the City Council? CTO officials must have presumed it came from the city mayor who had deputized the councilor.

Whatever the decision after the dry run, the policy must come from legitimate authority, not just from one person.

Had Arcilla, Andales withdrawn

A BOPK supporter asked on radio whether Councilors Alvin Arcilla and Sisenio Andales could've withdrawn to be substituted with qualified candidates before the elections.

The two officials, the caller said, spoiled the chance of BOPK to remain as the dominant party in the Cebu City Council. Comelec en banc had already struck out Arcilla and Andales was expected to be the next to fall.

Under Comelec Resolution #10430 of October 1, 2018, withdrawal and substitution of candidates would no longer be allowed after November 29 of that year. That resolution amended Resolution #10420 of September 7, 2018, which allowed withdrawal and substitution (along with death and disqualification) until noon of election day.

How about disqualification, under which the Arcilla and Andales cases fall? Disqualification must be "by final judgment." Comelec en banc ruled against Arcilla only last June 21 and became final five days later. It still has to rule on the Andales case.

Thus substitution by withdrawal was no longer legally doable. Besides, it was not the plan of the two councilors and their party BOPK.

***

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