CEBU

Bzzzzz: Former mayor Nelson Garcia was 'brave enough' to raise the issue of whales and dolphins. Cebu City's 'unofficial' FB page.

PEOPLE talk about...

WEBSITES OF ABS-CBN AND GMA BEING INACCESSIBLE TO PUBLIC. Since Wednesday midnight until Thursday morning (September 2 to 3), or for about eight hours, the websites of the country's two giant broadcast networks could not be reached. Attempts to access were met with messages "This page is under construction" and "Your connection is not private."

ABS-CBN's site became accessible at about 11 a.m. The cause was still "being investigated."

Ex-mayor's 'kill order'

Last February 11, 2015, then Dumanjug, Cebu mayor Nelson Gamaliel Garcia stirred environmental waters, setting off a minor tsunami, by what he reportedly said at the forum called Tañon Strait Protected Seascape Stakeholders Summit held in Cebu City.

A Bzzzzz item of February 19, 2015 said: News reports quoted the mayor as saying "dolphins, whales, sharks are parasites... some of them should be killed." They endanger the fishermen's catch, Nelson said, as they eat tons of fish each day. He suggested, one report said, controlling the population of dolphins, whales and sharks along Tañon Strait by skilling some of them.

The mayor's statement at the forum drew criticisms from all over, including a lift-out of his quote and a photo in social media. A SunStar reader, one Jay Paul C. Pogoy, sent Bzzzzz a cartoon depicting the mayor as a whale hunter aboard M/V Dumanjug, leading his men to kill a huge shark.

The problem, it seemed, was the media focus on the "kill order" part of Nelson's statement. The digital news site Rappler led off its story with the quote, "I want to kill those whale sharks." The Freeman qualified the mayor's wish: "some of them should be killed." The two news outlets though headlined the quote minus the qualified.

Liza Osorio, an environmental lawyer and trustee of the Philippine Earth Justice Center, said she was glad the mayor raised the environmental issue, which should've set off a discussion on how sea life on Tañon Strait should be managed. Mayor Garcia was probably the only one brave enough to say those things. Maybe the other local officials have the same understanding. "I welcome any debate to it."

The debate didn't follow. Nelson lost in his reelection bid for town mayor in 2016 against Efren Gica and his race for a House seat (the seventh district) in 2019 against John Peter Calderon. Garcia served as town mayor from 2010 to 2016.

Nelson could've pursued the problem of balancing the need to preserve the dolphins and whales and the need of fisherfolk to earn a living.

Nelson Garcia died Tuesday night, September 1 at Chong Hua Hospital, Cebu Capitol said Wednesday in a Facebook post. The former mayor was a brother of Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia and former Provincial Board member and former president and general manager of GSIS Winston Garcia.

Nelson's other siblings are Representative Pablo John Garcia, who was restored in 2019 to the third district seat he won in 2007 and 2010; Byron Garcia, former Capitol security consultant credited for the internationally popular CPDRC Dancing Inmates (featured in the Netflix docu "Happy Jail"); and Marlon Garcia who is Barili, Cebu mayor. Their parents are former governor and congressman Pablo P. Garcia and Esperanza Fiel Garcia (who died in 2016).

Cebu City's 'unofficial' page

Cebu City is using only the two separate Facebook accounts of the public information office (PIO) and Mayor Edgardo Labella for its messages, according to a SunStar source.

The FB account "Cebu City Government" has not been turned over to the new administration, the source said. Recently, the FB page partly erred in reporting about seniors and under-age-21 youths being "now allowed" under modified GCQ. The city administrator said the FB account is unofficial. Indeed, its note of welcome to the site includes the descriptive word "unofficial" in parenthesis.

Yet most, if not all, its contents -- articles, photos, videos, documents, and the like -- are about Cebu City hall, its officials and their activities.

They couldn't be obtained except with the consent, even authority, of the current administration. They cannot come from an outsider, say, a reporter of a private media outlet.

Atty. Casas may need to tell the public what he means by "unofficial." That may just be a convenient refuge or excuse for evading accountability when the page reports a lie or commits a slip.

A September 1 post, for example, is an explanation on quarantine passes, face masks, and face shields, attributed to Mayor Labella under the heading "Cebu City Government" and the seal of Cebu City (see image above). The same day's features include a live feed from the "Cebu City vice mayor's office."

It looks official. It contains official stuff. It is labeled "Cebu City Government" and uses its official seal. It must be a duck.

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