A STAUNCH believer in the partnership between government and the private sector, the death of Mayor Edgardo Labella leaves a deep void in the Cebu business community.

Thus said Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Felix Taguiam.

“He was a staunch believer in the partnership with the business community in general and with Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry in particular and in catalyzing with us the economic development and revival in Cebu. He engaged with us actively, and his dignified presence will be sorely missed,” Taguiam said.

Taguiam added that they will pursue with “deepened fervor” the projects that they started with Labella including the Cebu Investments Development Conceirge and Faith of My People projects.

“We salute him and offer our prayers for him and his family as we condole with the rest of the Cebu community,” he said.

At Capitol, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia sent her condolences to Labella’s family and said she will always remember Labella for his selfless dedication to public service despite his health challenges.

“Today, the City of Cebu lost one of its beloved and distinguished sons, a dedicated public servant and a respected colleague in government service,” Garcia said.

“I will always remember Mayor Edgardo C. Labella for his fiery will to serve and selfless dedication to public service — as Cebu City councilor, vice mayor, and, finally, as Cebu City mayor — despite health challenges,” she added.

The mayors of the neighboring cities of Talisay, Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue also paid online tributes to Labella.

In a statement posted on his Facebook page, Talisay City Mayor Gerald Anthony “Samsam” Gullas Jr. said he was saddened by Labella’s passing.

“Both of us were neophyte mayors when we won our respective mandates in 2019, and I knew through several conversations I had with him that he wanted to make a lasting legacy as leader of his city,” Gullas said.

Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan, in a statement, also expressed his condolences to Labella’s family.

“Siguro ako nga nagbangutan ang mga Sugboanon karon lakip na ang iyang mga pamilya ug kahigalaan, pero siguro ako nga nagmalipayon sa siya karon sa kiliran sa atong Labawng Makagagahom (I am sure that Cebuanos including his family and friends are in mourning, but I am also certain that he is now happy at the side of God Almighty),” Chan said.

In a statement, Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes said Labella’s death was a “great loss” to the City of Cebu.

“Salamat sa imong serbisyo sa katawhan, ilabi na sa Dakbayan sa Sugbo (Thank you for your public service, especially to the City of Cebu). Your death is a great loss to the city, but we know that your legacy will live on,” Cortes said.

Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Lloyd Dino also posted on Facebook to express sorrow over Labella’s death.

“It is with deep sorrow that I say goodbye to a man of principle who was not only a good friend to me but a partner in governance. He spoke with wisdom and acted with passion. We shared the same vision for Cebu City, and that made us even closer,” Dino said.

“Until his final days, his mind and heart were for his people and Cebu City,” Dino added. (JOB, JKV)