Seares: 'Cebu City Government' FB page was used under Tomas Osmeña's term. The Labella administration still has to get the 'rogue' account back or shut it down.

News Sense

DISOWNED BY CITY MANAGER. The Facebook page bearing the name "Cebu City Government" is "unofficial," according to City Administrator Floro Casas Jr., as relayed to the public by Ed Karlon N. Rama in a Wednesday, September 2, post.

Karlon, former news reporter and now mass-com teacher and resource speaker on conflict reporting, branded as "foul" and a threat to public safety the announcement posted under the "CCG" page.

The "offensive" material talked about the right of senior citizens and those aged below 21 to go out of their residence during the modified general quarantine. They are "now allowed to go out," said the "Cebu City Government" post that Karlon has called out in the name of public welfare.

Cebu City has shifted since September 1 to MGCQ, a more relaxed stage of quarantine. People are interested in the information. Coming from the "Cebu City Government," the post has drawn some attention and trust.

CASAS USE OF 'UNOFFICIAL.' By saying the "CCG" page on Facebook is "unofficial," did city manager Casas mean the account was not applied for and granted by the City Government or any of its agencies? Is it or is it not a media outlet of the city, which the city officially runs?

There's seeming anomaly, resulting in some deception.

If it is not official, then the page should not use the "Cebu City Government" name, along with the official seal of the city. It is incongruous, an irregularity -- and a kind of fraud: people tend to think the information comes from the City Government and is official, when it does not and is not.

The branding is about credibility: it helps the public choose the right source for its information. It is also about accountability: who answers for any error or lie the page might carry.

Capitol has its "Sugbo News," which the Cebu Provincial Government, through the office of the governor, administers -- and gets credit and answers for. We have yet to hear the provincial administrator say "Sugbo News" is not


NOT A MYSTERY BUT IT'S PUZZLING. It has turned out that City Hall is merely being polite when it says the "CCG" account is "unofficial."

Here's the actual score, or so a City Hall source told me:

[1] The account is in the name of the Cebu City Government. When the Labella-Rama team assumed office on June 30, 2019, access was not turned over to the new administration. So the person or persons who administered "CCG" during then mayor Tomas Osmeña's term have kept control of the page.

[2] It is not known if Labella government tried to wrest control of the account or asked Facebook to nullify or change its name and, more importantly, to demand that its unauthorized use be stopped. All the while, since July last year, the Labella administration has been content with using two other accounts: the Cebu City public information page and the Edgar Labella page.

The City PIO has also called the "CCG" page "unofficial" but it has not given background data. And apparently, City Hall still has not demanded that the people running the account stop using the name and seal of the City Government.

POST NOT ENTIRELY WRONG. Check out the "offensive" post about seniors and those aged under 21.

The post says they are "now" allowed under MGCQ or the modified general quarantine to go out of their residence starting September 1.

They are allowed, yes, they have been allowed since the breakout of the pandemic but subject to specific conditions. The general rule has been: stay at home, stay in shelter. The exception comes with specific conditions, including, in the case of Cebu City, the carrying of the city's quarantine pass.

Even under previous stages of Covid-19 quarantine, seniors, below-21 youth, and those suffering from diseases (which make them highly vulnerable to coronavirus) are allowed to go out of their home but as an exception to the ban and for specific purposes.

The purposes include such chores as buying or securing food and medicine at the market or money from the bank, especially when they are alone in their household or no one else can do it, or they are working for an "essential" or "allowed-to-reopen" business.

The error in the "CCG" post was the use of the word "now," which made it appear they were forbidden before and allowed now under MGCQ. They were allowed before, as they are now, but always under the listed conditions.

To its credit, the CCG post listed the terms. The error was the stress on the exemption, not on the general rule.

CEASE, DESIST. But the people now running the "rogue" page better give it up to the right people at City Hall or, at least, cease and desist from using it in their wish to help, unless they're driven by pure mischief. They're not helping, they may be confusing the public.

By the way, cannot the office of the mayor, with all its authority and influence, as lawful and rightful owner, seize control of the FB account or shut it down?


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