SECTIONS
Cebu
Thursday, June 17, 2021
CEBU

Bzzzzz: Sparse info from Cebu leaders on 'just-dinner' meeting with Duterte. Silence confirms that ruling party, like the opposition, is prepping for 2022 elections.

Photos from Sugbo News and Facebook page of Usec. Jonji Gonzales

LCQ, circuit breaker

CEBUANOS first heard the phrase "granular lockdown" in July and August last year when Cebu City was struggling with ECQ or enhanced community quarantine, the harshest Q there is.

Now the National Capital Region is talking about "granular lockdown" although it is still under GCQ or general community quarantine -- along with Cordilleras, Batangas, Tacloban City, Davao City, Davao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, and Iligan City -- and the rest of the country under modified GCQ.

They also have another name for granular lockdown: LCQ or localized community quarantine. And they also have "extreme" LCQ and circuit breaker granular lockdown.

Copied from Singapore's strategy, to the country circuit breaker granular lockdown means "voluntary ECQ" and work-from-home policy by private companies and government offices. The same restriction but without compulsion.

So in NCR, the lockdown is by households, areas/zones or villages or for a period of time such as a number of days.

Not so hush-hush

Capitol referred to the event as "an out-of-town meeting with a very important person" in the March 17 announcement that Governor Gwen Garcia tested negative after a Covid-19 RT-PCR test. The test was required for the meeting that Wednesday night, the Capitol-run Sugbo News said. No name, no place, no agenda but Capitol watchers guessed it would be an appointment with President Rodrigo Duterte.

And the guess was correct. The local officials led by Governor Gwen were seen in a post-meeting photograph released the following day. In the photo were three congressmen (Janice Salimbangon of the fourth district, Duke Frasco of the fifth, and Emmarie "Lolypop" Ouano Dizon of the sixth); three city mayors (Jonas Cortes of Mandaue City, Junard "Ahong" Chan of Lapu-Lapu City and Anthony "Samsam" Gullas of Talisay City); and Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Lloyd Dino.

No politics?

Was the politics the business of the dinner? The Cebu leaders were "tight-lipped," a news report said.

A Capitol bulletin after the meeting said the governor "expressed before the president her position on issues concerning Cebu and the Cebuanos." Did the issues include politics? The raised-first-finger sign each one in the photo flashed was not conclusive.

Talisay City Mayor Samsam posted on Facebook the meeting of Cebu officials with President Duterte in Malacanang with Duterte and Senator Bong Go Wednesday, March 17, was just dinner. Samsam said they talked about the "situation" in his city and he thanked both the president and the senator "for what they have done for the district, especially Talisay."

Sixth district Congresswoman Emmarie "Lolypop" Ouano-Dizon said: "Thank you, Tatay Digong" for his "trust and support." It was an honor to join the "intimate dinner" in Malacanang, with "my partner in progress Jonas C. Cortes."

Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard "Ahong" Chan, also on Facebook, thanked the president for the flowers and a letter he got from the president when the mayor's mom died last February and for his efforts to honor Lapu-Lapu, including the P5,000 commemorative bill bearing the Mactan hero's face and the approval of the bill declaring Kadaugan sa Maktan day a legal holiday.

They must have talked politics, a broadcaster speculated, citing the event preceding the March 17 dinner, which was the March 10 manifesto of the same local elective officials rooting for a Bong Go-Digong Duterte team. It was a follow-up to the document secured by a Cabinet official, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, who came down to Cebu City the other Wednesday for it. When Senator Manny Pacquiao learned about it in the news media, the PDP Laban president chided Cusi for premature politicking. At about the same time, the boxer-senator's camp released a political jingle pushing Pacquiao's presidential bid.

Most likely that gathering included, if not primarily, politics. If it did, the greater the reason for the local leaders not to talk about it publicly. One, the public wouldn't like the public officials tackling political issues instead of the pandemic, still rising in number of positive cases and against which the needed vaccines for the general population still had not arrived. Two, they wouldn't publicly disclose their strategy to retain power.

Labella is 'in' with group

Those who wondered if Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella was with the group that is rooting for the Bong Go-Duterte tandem in 2022, note that (a) while the mayor failed to sign the March 10 manifesto, he and Vice Mayor Mike Rama later publicly expressed their support to it, and (b) Labella explained his absence from the Malacanang dinner, saying he begged off the invitation relayed to him by Usec. Dino because of more important matters in the city. He told Dino: "Di lang sa ko kay daghan ko'g atimanon dinhi, pagkadaghan gyu'ng atimanon." (The mayor didn't say if VM Rama was invited.)

Eric S. Manait of dyCM's "Bara di Kabra" agreed about what Labella has on his plate ("daghanang problema"). City Hall watchers can cite the rising number of Covid-19 cases in the city, the "still unliquidated" P2.5-billion Covid-response money the executive department had spent for 2020, and unanswered questions about Councilor Nina Mabatid's "witch" at City Hall and former Dangerous Drugs Board Undersecretary Clarence Paul Oaminal's "Cebu City Kurakot Gang."

Opposition's 1Sambayan

The opposition is not exactly folding its arms with regard to preparations for the 2022 national race.

Thursday, March 18, anti-administration forces led by former Supreme Court Chief Justice Antonio Carpio, under a newly formed coalition called 1Sambayan, said they will field a single slate of national candidates -- president, vice president, 12 senators -- against President Duterte's chosen candidates, which might include Duterte himself running as vice president.

The first problem 1Sambayan might tackle is the possible legal issue of President Duterte going around the constitutional term limit of six years by running as VP to his former and still gofer Senator Bong Go. The opposition can sue but the Supreme Court might interpret the Constitution literally and ignore its purpose and intent.

Team at OPAV

Gerard Anthony "Jonji" Gonzales has moved up, effective March 15, from assistant secretary to undersecretary to his boss, Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Lloyd Dino. That followed the appointment last October 5, 2020 of Girlie Enriquez-Veloso to assistant secretary.

Secretary Dino, Usec. Jonji and Asec. Girlie, the shorthand for their title and name. That's the new team at OPAV.

***

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