Malilong: Thank the police for a peaceful Sinulog

The Other Side

I HEARD that Mayor Edgar Labella will host dinner later this month to thank the police for their role in ensuring a peaceful and enjoyable Sinulog celebration this year. They deserve it and more.

Right at the start of the novena masses, the public already felt the reassuring presence of the police. They thoroughly inspected the bags of churchgoers at designated choke points, patiently directed them to the entrance and exits of the basilica and quietly went about their jobs of maintaining the peace.

On my way home from the first novena mass on the last day, I saw dozens of policemen standing along D. Jakosalem St., including some friends in the Regional Highway Patrol Group. They were ubiquitous without being intrusive.

I stayed home during the grand parade on Sunday so I did not see where the police were stationed. But I’m sure they were almost everywhere along the parade route and inside the Cebu City Sports Center (CCSC) standing under the heat of the sun. It was a thankless job.

The Sinulog was the first serious test of the leadership of Region 7 police chief, Police Brig. Gen. Valeriano de Leon and the Cebu City police chief, Police Col. Engelbert Soriano, who are both relatively new to Cebu, and they both passed it with flying colors, to use an oft-repeated cliche. Sinulog 2020 was peaceful.

The only fly in the ointment was Jayson John Tapales, the Danao City native who foolishly spat on his paint-smeared palms and wiped them on the faces of a couple who were unfortunately near him. A justifiably annoyed Soriano wanted Tapales declared persona non grata if only to express the city’s condemnation of the reprehensible act. In the meantime, let me ask: Tapales surrendered and voluntarily confessed to the wrongdoing. Why wasn’t he locked up in jail pending custodial investigation?

By the way, some people are still talking about the attempts to award exclusive contracts to broadcast the Sinulog and to sell food in the CCSC. I wish we all can just say that these attempts, which Labella thwarted, were simply hiccups that had since disappeared and that we should all move on. But not all of us are willing to let go.

So be it. It is obvious that reforms are needed in order to run a smooth Sinulog. First of all, the Foundation should be limited only to staging the festival and should have nothing to do with raising money to fund it. Funding should henceforth be the responsibility of the Sinulog Governing Board. That would relieve the Foundation from the headache of looking for sponsors and selling the spaces in the CCSC, allowing them to focus only on producing a spectacular and memorable show.

Some people will not be happy with this setup, especially those who are used to treating the Sinulog as their own show and fear that their roles will be diminished with the changes. But the festival has grown too big to entrust it to a single entity. The city government has to take a larger role through the Governing Board.

There is no attempt to denigrate the foundation or the people behind it, including its executive director, here. These are men of proven competence and unquestioned integrity. In fact, as I have always said, the questionable exclusivity awards were not a case of ill intent but of poor judgment.

The poor judgment could have occurred only because the Foundation had so much on its plate. It’s time to share the burden with somebody else.


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