LAPU-LAPU City Mayor Junard Chan, reacting to the clutch of criminal and administrative charges filed last Sept. 4 against him by 28 barangay captains, scolded the village officials.
Media news stories said Mayor Ahong asked why the barangay officials were the ones who filed the complaint when (a) they were not involved with City Hall affairs, (b) they should focus on their work in the barangays, (c) the mayor has his problems and the barangay captains have theirs and he has City Hall while they have their barangay halls.
In sum: Why are the barangay captains–28 out of 30–“meddling” with the mayor’s job and place of work?
Residue of intrusion
It must have been an impulsive response, a residue of the ugly feeling of being intruded into by Rep. Paz Radaza when she had latched on to the “district office” that she and her staff used at City Hall. “Cong” Paz had defied the mayor’s eviction order, repeatedly made, stretching the stalemate to almost two months starting July.
Mayor Chan could’ve given her the office space at City Hall if they were political allies--just as then mayor Paz accommodated her husband Arturo and her daughter Aileen when they were the House members from Lapu-Lapu’s lone district, from 2010 to 2019--or if the new congresswoman had not begun sniping at Ahong’s decisions during the first week of July even while still warming his seat.
Chan must have felt violated with the violator waging the assault from right inside City Hall which, the Department of Interior & Local Government ruled, he had right of control as chief executive.
“Cong Paz” is not directly suing but Mayor Ahong probably knows already that politicians rarely file the complaints themselves when they have other people to do it for them. They use surrogates too in Cebu City.
Do barangay captains have the right to complain? They do. The ombdusman entertains even anonymous complaints provided they are meritorious and there are enough facts for the anti-graft agency to proceed.
It’s not meddling by the barangay officials who have as much stake as the mayor in what City Hall is doing. The mayor wouldn’t be meddling too if he’d poke into barangay affairs. They’re in the same LGU.
What’s clear is that the barangay captains are being used by “Cong” Paz to make things difficult for Mayor Ahong who had ended the decades-long rule of the Radazas at City Hall. The former district office in the building symbolized the last foothold of the clan, from which it must have hoped to wage the resistance until the 2020 elections.
Things in Ahong’s favor
The mayor has the advantage of (a) presumption of regularity of his actions, (b) the DILG opinion, which Radaza and Chan both sought but the congresswoman rejected, that explicitly supported the mayor; (c) the defect of the clearly self-serving ordinance that granted the use of the office, and (d) the patience, even confused with weakness, of the mayor in enforcing his order.
The lawsuit is a cannon attack at Chan’s political ship and, at the same time, an explosion of force to Radaza’s constituents that serve notice they’re still a mighty adversary on the road to 2021.
Mayor Ahong just has to learn better on how to face and answer the series of unfortunate events that his political enemy are expected to stage between now and the next election.
The skirmishes so far have been mostly noise, directed at Lapu-Lapu voters. And the mayor is still not adept at using and deflecting hostile fire in a propaganda war.