Bzzzzz: 'Mayor-na-coma' rumor pops up again. Labella, in hospital for ear infection, tells city folk: 'Behave mo ha.' Temp team: Mike, Dondon. Adopted couple: the Felicianos.

CEBU. (From left) Cebu City Vice Mayor Mike Rama, Councilor Dondon Hontiveros, and retired general Melquiades Feliciano and his wife Mia. (SunStar File)

LAST December 23, 2020, Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella had to quell the rumor that he was hospitalized and in a coma. He underwent gallbladder surgery three months earlier, on September 3, but since then, the mayor said, he had not been admitted to the hospital, except for wound-dressing and other post-operation consultation. Not true, "kalooy sa Ginoo."

That "si mayor na-coma" rumor broke out again, saying Labella was admitted into Cebu Doctors Hospital. During the City Council session Wednesday afternoon, January 20 -- which included at the ceremony conferring on retired general Melquiades Feliciano and his wife Mia as Cebu City's "adopted couple" -- Vice Mayor Mike Rama introduced himself to his colleagues as "acting mayor" and Councilor Dondon Hontiveros as acting vice mayor. The mayor, Mike said, was on medical leave ("for personal medical reason"). Not one of the councilors, known for being candid and inquisitive, asked Mike for details.

Mayor Labella's explanation came later in a Facebook post on his wall. He said he had an ear infection and was advised to stay in the hospital for a rest. He'll be back after three days, "until then, behave mo ha." Obviously, the caution referred to the slow increase of active Covid-19 cases in his city and the need for residents not to abandon caution.

But re-read what he said. If Labella was to rest for three days, why did news accounts say Rama was acting mayor for only one day, Thursday (January 21)?

An explanation is that Labella might rest for three days, in hospital or at home, but Mike would be acting mayor for only one day. Was Wednesday included in the count? Did his watch begin that afternoon at the Sanggunian where he said he was already acting mayor and doing the job of the mayor?

Mike-Dondon duo

Acting Mayor Mike was already meeting with department heads Wednesday, obviously to talk about his current concerns: the pandemic, specifically the operations of the isolation facility Noah, his passion on "Wuhan" (his acronym for "wash your hands," etcetera), and the Sinulog they presented.

With his severely limited stay, as was his acting-mayor tenure last September when Labella went under the knife, Rama would have almost-zero chance to do anything substantial or momentous.

Much of Mike's time would be spent on talking -- explaining and cajoling on his favorite issues -- while Hontiveros's energy would be on steering the City Council, which Dondon did last Wednesday.

Feliciano remembers names

Retired general Feliciano, IATF implementer for the Visayas, must have brushed up on the names of key people he had worked with the city's Emergency Operations Center (EOC) or he just has the skill of not forgetting names that matter.

And during the January 20 ceremony conferring on Feliciano and his nurse wife Mia the title of "Adopted Couple," he recited the names of the top city officials and all the councilors who accorded him the honor, and the chiefs of the sections at EOC, who helped him get it, pointing to or nodding at each as he presented them.

What had the couple done actually? They came at a time the city was disparagingly branded the "epicenter" of pandemic in the Visayas and most of the country, when active cases reached more than 5,000 and death toll was almost 400. Feliciano and his wife studied and overhauled the system at EOC to make it more effective. The numbers dropped.

His advice as the numbers begin threateningly to rise once more: no need for lockdown again, just the health protocols.


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