Malilong: The asin tax is sinful

The Other Side

VICE Mayor Michael Rama called yesterday to deny that he and Mayor Edgardo Labella are not in good terms. Rumors of a rift between the city’s top two leaders began to surface after Rama resigned as chairman of the Sinulog Foundation allegedly because he was snubbed by the newly-created Sinulog Governing Board.

“We had a long talk,” Rama disclosed, “and Edgar and I agreed that whatever differences in opinions we have on certain issues, they will not affect our partnership,” which he described as “strong as ever.”

Rama’s disclosure confirmed what Labella told me last Friday on the sidelines of the dinner reception for visiting dignitaries from Cebu’s Chinese sister city, Xiamen. “Mike and I spoke already and we continue to be good,” Labella said.

The “differences in opinion” are evident in at least two issues: The eviction of sidewalk vendors from Colon and the creation of the Sinulog Governing Board. Of the two, the latter is more personal to Rama who believes that there is no need to disturb the set-up that has successfully run the January festival for 25 years. Labella, on the other hand, maintains that the Board will not supplant but support the Foundation in terms of facilitating better coordination among the agencies involved in the Sinulog, which has become bigger and more complicated to organize.

As for the sidewalk vendors, Rama claims that President Duterte’s order during the last State of the Nation Address (Sona) was to clear the streets only, not including the sidewalks, of obstruction. The interpretation is at best shaky but Rama claims that Bong Go, Duterte’s long-serving assistant who is now a senator, agrees with him.

As a former mayor himself, Rama knows that regardless of what the vice mayor or other officials think, at the end of the day it is the opinion of the mayor that matters and all of them will have to respect it. He can continue to disagree, of course, but instead of publicly remonstrating, he has to do it privately.

Rama said he and Labella can maximize their respective strengths to make their partnership succeed in serving the city well. Indeed their respective characters couldn’t have been more different. Rama is ebullient, gregarious and enjoys being in the limelight. Labella is the low-profile type who is more comfortable blending with the crowd. There are times, however, in fact, so many times when the mayor has to be the star of the show. I look forward to the vice mayor fading in the background during those times.

It is good for them politically, by the way. Both he and the mayor should know that only they can beat themselves.


Say what, a sin tax on salty food? How idiotic!

Health is a concern of the person first, the government second. Why should the State dictate what we can and cannot eat? What will they propose to do next, declare salt as contraband?

Many people eat salty food because they cannot afford the “healthier” ones. When we were in college, my cousin Vicente (Mendoza) and I had corn with tinabal nga tamban for breakfast, lunch and dinner most of the days of the week because that was what our meager allowance could afford to buy. If they had “asin tax” then, even the dried tamban would have been beyond our reach.

The minority leader of the Lower House called the proposed tax insensitive and callous. It is more than those two adjectives. It is sinful.


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