CEBU

Bzzzzz: Sue Tomas over office rage? Public censured him already.

CEBU. Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella (right) and his wife, who carried a tiny fan at the oath-taking ceremony Sunday, June 30, 2019. Labella poked fun at his wife carrying the tiny fan, saying in a Facebook post: "Lipay kaayo akong tapad o! Salig kay naay mini fan. Wa gyud ko pahuwama!" (Photo by Arni Aclao)

PEOPLE are talking about...

* MAYOR EDGAR LABELLA INCLUDING "COLINA" in repeating his name when he took his oath Sunday (June 30) at the Cebu City Hall grounds. The Supreme Court associate justice who administered the oath didn't include his mother's surname name: "Colina."

* LABELLA'S WIFE CARRYING A TINY, WEENIE FAN at the oath-taking ceremony, which the mayor later poked fun at in a Facebook post. She didn't share it with him, he said.

* GOV. GWEN GARCIA LOOKING LOVELY AS SHE MARCHED INTO THE CAPITOL. Overheard at the media section: One said, "Lovelier than..." Before he could finish the comment with "ever," another cut in, "Junjun Davide."

Even Xinhua ran it

How interesting was the gutting of the Cebu City mayor's office? The interest in it must be so high that:

* It was run by Xinhua, China's official news agency, and picked up by its clients. One news media carried an English translation with the heading "Philippine politician guts mayor's office after losing reelection."

* Radio talk shows in Manila included it in their broadcast (also picked up in social media). One opinion that must interest the city legal officer: "While tiles that (Mayor) Tomas Osmeña said he owned could be removed, taking them out also removed materials, which Tomas didn't own, that were used to install them." Something like in the Shakespearean pound of flesh that couldn't be sliced off the debtor's body without dropping a single drop of blood.

Labella's three offices

* Mayor Edgar Labella had to change plans about where to stay while his office at the ground floor of Cebu City Hall is being prepared. This week, he holds office at the vice mayor's office to which Vice Mayor Mike Rama is now entitled to occupy. Then Edgar will move to the senior citizen's office, which is beside the mayor's would-be office. Thus, he will have occupied at least three offices before his term expires.

* The public may be interested to know how much Labella is spending for his ground-floor office. We only learned this year how much Mike Rama asked and got in 2013 (P8 million to P9 million) and what Tomas asked but didn't get in 2016 (P2 million). Shouldn't media be reporting that now?

* The City Government, specifically the mayor and the Barug councilors, may do better than waste public goodwill and attention on suing Tomas Osmeña for the "vandalism." The backlash against the former mayor is enough punishment. His explanation just didn't wash, except to his most rabid supporters. Public relations-wise, Tomas got sympathy after the May 13 result was known but he got widespread censure and boos after the office-stripping incident.

If he must be sued, it may as well be over the contributions "from friends" that he publicly admitted he got from friends to renovate the office. The law doesn't distinguish about gifts, even for a supposedly public purpose. The donations, presumably of cash and materials, were not accepted formally by the City Council.

Inaugural sidelights

* Labella, like his predecessor Tomas Osmeña, employed symbolism: occupying a ground-floor office, for easy access of city residents and being more open to the public. Tomas had picked and used the eighth floor for his office, maybe so he could watch over the city he said he loves and also to keep his eyes on the South Road Properties with which, his critics said, he was obsessed.

* Who are those who say there's a brewing, if not running, feud between Labella and his vice mayor, Mike Rama? They haven't seen it yet, at least not in public, not during the Sunday inaugural. The City Hall facade was draped in colors of yellow, green and red, which, a news media site reported, are hues of Mike Rama. More accurately, they are Barug colors, not just of Mike. And there was no incident of scene-stealing by Mike. It was mostly, Edgar Labella's time on spotlight.

***

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