WITH all due respect to Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella, I am now almost convinced that Cebu City has so many mayors. Why? Because some of Labella’s trusted men, especially in his inner circle, like his department heads and some city councilors, are making decisions on their own without the mayor’s consent. Vice Mayor Mike Rama, a former mayor, sometimes would act like a mayor, while Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (Opav) Secretary Michael Dino is perceived to be an influencer in his administration for political consideration.
Consider this: Some of Labella’s department heads are making pronouncements and decisions without the courtesy of informing the mayor. For instance, the chief of the transportation office made a pronouncement about their new policy on the registration of bicycles. But the following day, the mayor announced a different policy.
This issue might be water under the bridge because City Hall officials are now singing a different tune. I am referring to the controversial purchase of “tuob” kits. City Hall spokesman and legal officer Rey Gealon said the “tuob” kits which were distributed to coronavirus disease (Covid-19) patients in the barangay isolation centers (BIC) were not actually purchased, but donated by a supplier. So, no government fund was spent. Is that so? Why did this theory only surface now? Was there a formal deed of donation? It was estimated to cost P2.5 million for 1,000 kits at P2,500 each. And who is the donor? Why does City Hall refuse to divulge the donor’s identity?
Why did this “donation theory” surface only now? Was it City Hall’s damage control? Mayor Labella could have announced it earlier when he said that he did not authorize the purchase of those “tuob” kits and would not release funds for that transaction. It was a “Johnny-come-lately” sort of defense.
I have known Labella for more than three decades. He was one of my few friends when I, from Mindanao, set foot in this city. He was then the director of the Visayas Ombudsman. He has all the traits of a good leader. But his personality as being compassionate, kind, lenient and understanding is being misunderstood as a weakness. Ang problema aning Labella dili makamaong mangisog. Sobra ka maayong tawo (Labella’s problem is that he doesn’t confront people. He’s too good).
Like in the case of the alleged purchase of “tuob” kits. Imagine how people close to him just ordered these kits without having the courtesy of informing him. They are placing the mayor in a very embarrassing and compromising situation. It appears that some of the mayor’s trusted men have no respect for him.
Whoever were responsible for the purchase of these kits are abusing the trust and confidence of the mayor given on them. And no one wants to admit it now. They are washing their hands like Pontius Pilate. They are now singing a different tune by making it appear that the kits were donated. But the truth of the matter is that it was really supplied by someone upon the order of somebody from City Hall.
There are three basic styles of leadership decision-making: authoritarian, democratic and laissez- faire. Authoritarian leaders rule their group. Democratic leaders try to include everyone in the decision-making process, and laissez-faire leaders leave things to take their own course without interference.
A great leader possesses a clear vision, is courageous, has integrity, honesty, humility and has a clear focus. Labella has these traits, but he is just too lenient and considerate. That is why he is being abused by his own men. Pangisog pud kuno usahay, mayor. Let the Cebuanos see that you are strong and a decisive leader. Let heads roll.