CEBU

Bzzzzz: Mixed messages: Mayor Labella will take China vaccine Coronavac, VM Rama will not. Mike insists there's still Sinulog.

Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella (left), Vice Mayor Mike Rama and a vile of the Coronavac vaccine made by China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd. (SunStar/AP)

P22M may yet be spent

TO MANY people, Sinulog 2021 was totally canceled when the Regional IATF asked the mayor and national IATF to ban all physical and "performance-based" activities related to the cultural activity, a request that Sinulog Foundation Inc. and the steering committee acceded in what Vice Mayor Mike Rama, steering committee chief, called a "prudent decision."

Without the "ritual showdown" at South Road Properties and the street dancing, not even for the purpose of video recording for a January 17 digital presentation, what parts of Sinulog were left?

Apparently, Vice Mayor Mike Rama, SFI chairman and head of the steering committee, counts the online presentations they have done on the days leading to Sinulog day (in one of which Councilor Dondon Hontiveros was a judge).

We still have the Sinulog, Mike Rama insisted in a privileged speech at the City Council Wednesday, January 13. To most people though, the Sinulog is the street dancing that culminates with the spectacular finale that used to be held at the Cebu City Sports Center and would've been held this year at SRP.

If there were no more Sinulog, how could the P22 million (down from 2020's P40 million) be justified? "Nakagasto na (we've already spent some of it)," Rama said.

Not to mention, but mentioned anyway, the Rama effort that had gone into the preparations. Mike said he already delivered 80 talks, including his January 13 Sanggunian speech, about the Sinulog, along with several planning sessions to come up with an "unorthodox, unconventional and innovative" celebration.

To cap Mike Rama's non-physical Sinulog, there will be a Sinulog mass at Fort San Pedro Sunday, January 17. Will that count? Wait, won't that be a physical activity during a mass gathering of people?

The dance contingents that have been disabled by the ban will get P150,000 per group and, maybe, another P150,000 in the middle of the year when the Philippine Christianization celebration starts. That P22 million may yet be spent.

Coronavac? Bring it on, says Ed

Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella is willing to be vaccinated with Coronavac manufactured by the Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinovac, a January 13 story by John Rey Saavedra of the government-run Philippine News Agency (PNA) said.

In contrast, Ed's vice mayor, Michael Rama, will submit to inoculation provided it is not Coronavac, the Sinovac product. The Cebu City Council presiding officer said at a press conference Monday (January 11) that the vaccine he'd take must also be approved by Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The mayor trusts the vaccine that the Brazil results show is only 50.4 percent effective. "far less effective than initially touted in that country."

The vice mayor does not.

Thus, the city's two top officials present contrasting endorsements. City residents also get conflicting messages.

What if Labella's pitch would draw less followers than Mike Rama's message, would that tell anything about their respective popular support? Of course not but the city's residents expectedly will choose the vaccine they trust, on the basis of information from trusted sources.

Mayor Labella though already said city residents are given the right to choose the brand they prefer -- unlike presidential spokesman Harry Roque who implied that beggars cannot be choosers. As of now, though, there is no other brand except Sinovac's Coronavac that the national government has contracted for and is like to reach the city first.

VM Rama won't get his vaccination yet. And his name, if the threat will push through, will go to the bottom of the list, along with other names of people who reject Coronavac.

Preparations for vaccine

Local media extensively reported the budgeting of money to buy vaccines against Covid-19 because it was among the conditions of the vice mayor for the approval of the much-scrutinized 2021 appropriation ordinance.

It was the only preparation that was publicized because the high officials talked just this week about the mayor forming a vaccine board given the task to lay the groundwork for the arrival of the drugs and its application when they come.

They were long ready to buy but had trusted Manila to tell them how while other local governments competing for the vaccines were already negotiating with the suppliers. The January 11 list of LGUs that signed deals with AstraZeneca unsurprisingly did not include Cebu City; the city is not even in the list of those talking with the suppliers. The reason: it has left to Manila the matter of procuring the vaccines.

Cebu City, a premier city, is literally behind other smaller cities on the aspect of securing the vaccines. City Hall, however, insists it is not trailing other LGUs. It has to prove that by a rollout of city-bought vaccines earlier than the other local governments, to which delivery has already been contracted.

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