Oh, well, Barug may as well be literal, rise to the occasion and help the executive.

In a privilege speech at the City Council on Dec. 9. 2020, Vice Mayor Michael Rama led the creation of an ad hoc committee that will work with Mayor Edgardo Labella to “refocus and streamline” the 2021 budget.

After days of dizzying verbal ping-pong between the mayor and some opposition councilors, the dominant party in the Council, led by the vice mayor, thinks it’s best to just put a method in the mess—a body that will cook up an agreeable City budget for 2021, one that will still be primarily Covid responsive.

“Capable as he may be, he is nonetheless, new,” said Rama, referring to Labella, who is chief executive for the first time. The mayor “sits alone in the executive branch as the only one directly entrusted and accountable to the people,” and thus the Council, equally answerable, comes to the rescue.

The committee is composed of the vice mayor himself, Councilors Phillip Zafra, Raymond Alvin Garcia, Eduardo Rama Jr., with opposition Councilors Lea Japson, Franklyn Ong, Nestor Archival and Alvin Dizon.

The decision comes while the executive is still to shed light on the expenditures in relation to the 2020 P3.5-billion Covid response funds and while the Council deliberates on the proposed 2021 budget. Rama said, “we just have to bring enlightenment.” Proposed expenditures for 2021, said Rama earlier, must drop other infrastructure projects and retain the part dedicated for the construction of the Cebu City Medical Center and those that address the city’s flooding problem.

Works two ways. Undeniably an election budget, the 2021 proposal might as well address the city’s top-of-mind problems.

“The budget should be focused more on pandemic, flood, food production and social concerns,” Rama said.

“Emphatic” in his position to keep the South Road Properties lot sale proceeds from the 2021 budget to prioritize the payment of loans, Rama said the committee will instead help the mayor look for other sources of funds.

Rama calls his move as “brother prerogatives and obligations,” being Barug’s party leader standing by its “promise of transparency.”

This move, we hope, will finally set everyone—executive and legislative—into the serious task of putting better sense in how the taxpayers’ money should be best spent efficiently in this time of crisis.