BETWEEN them, the spouses Arturo and Paz Radaza have ruled Lapu-Lapu City for nearly two decades. They were an unbeatable team and it was very rare that someone got elected to City Hall without their blessing.
Then along came Junard “Ahong” Chan. Although he has served as city councilor and most recently as barangay captain, neutral observers dismissed him as a political lightweight who had absolutely no chance of beating the comebacking Arturo, who offered to replace his wife after she served out the constitutional limit of three consecutive terms.
But Ahong beat the odds and dealt the Radazas their first defeat since they ascended to power. It was a shocking upset by any measure with none more shocked and more upset than perhaps the Radazas. They have lost City Hall and everything that it represented.
It must have been a bitter pill to swallow for her allies in the City Council too. What is life at City Hall without the reassuring presence of their political benefactor? Something had to be done about their impending desolation.
Last June 6, three weeks after Ahong won and with only 24 days left of Paz’s term, the councilors unveiled their stroke of genius in the form of an ordinance allowing Paz to continue holding office in City Hall even if she was already a congressman.
And as if to taunt the incoming mayor, the council’s midnight ordinance specifically designated where Paz’s district office was going to be which was on the same floor where Ahong also holds office.
Understandably, Ahong disliked the idea of floor sharing and asked Paz to move out. When she resisted, the mayor sought the help of Interior Secretary Eduardo Año. The Cabinet official ruled that the ordinance is not valid because apportioning the spaces in the City Hall building is the mayor’s prerogative. Paz’s lawyer, however, dismissed Año’s view as only an opinion and declared that only the court can decide the issue. Ahong responded by boarding up Paz’s City Hall office.
Paz is the only congressman in Cebu I know who insists on locating her district office in a city or a municipal hall in her district. Doesn’t Congress have a budget for office rentals?
Maybe, she wants to save money for the government. Maybe, she wants to be close to the people. But the mayor has already said that she was not welcome. Would she have allowed an official who was her political enemy to freeload at City Hall when she was the mayor?
Some friends I talked to say the reason Paz is clinging to her office in City Hall is that she cannot let go. I do not think so. But just in case they’re right and I am wrong, it will not be amiss to remind her that the people of Lapu-Lapu have spoken and it is time for her to move on.