State of calamity

COULD the Cebu City Council validly pass a resolution declaring a state of calamity in 36 barangays in the city, with only four members, including the presiding officer, remaining at the session hall?

The four members passed the resolution Wednesday, April 20, just before the Sanggunian adjourned and just after it recessed, during which they must have considered the legality of the move.

A City Hall watcher said the four members must have considered the quorum in the session's early stage as enough compliance of requirement. And if nobody would question the resolution in the next session, as nobody did when it was approved last Wednesday, then it would stay passed. Or the Sanggunian could ratify it in the next meeting and "cure the defect."

Councilor Joy Pesquera mentioned the lack of a quorum when she proposed to have the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office submit a written recommendation for declaration of state of calamity in the affected barangays, along with a list of the damages and requests for funds with program of works for repair and rehabilitation.

Cebu City has 80 barangays. Of the 35 recommended for state of calamity, only 16 already submitted declarations by their barangay councils while the rest still had to convene. The list grew to 36, with the addition of Kalunasan during discussion.

WHAT PUSHED IT. Gerry Carillo, the mayor's representative to the DRRM Council, stressed the urgency of declaring a state of calamity so that it can use the 30 percent quick response fund. And Councilor Jerry Guardo of the committee on infrastructure told the councilors that barangay captains in a number of barangays were clamoring for help after the supposedly Odette-induced landslides.

That must have pushed the decision to pass the declaration of a state of calamity even if there were only three councilors and a presiding office, Vice Mayor Dondon Hontiveros, present.

"MY GOODNESS." Councilor Pesquera briefly flared up when Carillo, a former city councilor, made it sound that the City Council could be neglecting its job of helping residents of the affected barangays. Carillo said there are about 10,000 residents in three barangays -- Sirao, Malubog and Sibugay -- who need immediate help. He asked rhetorically, should we abandon them? We're not neglecting them, Pesquera said, but it's the job of the Disaster Council and the Disaster Office to help the calamity victims. She said the area has been declared a danger zone of sort because of "fissures" that cause daily movement of the earth's crust.

Pesquera said she wouldn't pass judgment on other, older members of the City Council who've been there since the problem was brought to light. "My goodness," she said, indicating annoyance of how Carillo framed the situation.

***

City's coral reef 'alive'

The report of Dr. Raamah Rosales -- a marine biologist, teacher and researcher at Cebu Technical University -- to the Sanggunian last Wednesday was highlighted by the confirmation that (a) there's a Cebu City Reef, (b) it's in good condition despite the sewage dumped into the seawater and the passage of typhoons Odette and Agaton, and (c) it can be protected and tapped for research and tourism.

What obviously excited Dr. Rosales and a veteran diver and instructor was the finding that the coral reefs off the coast of South Road Properties in Cebu City has endured, even thrived while other coral reefs in other parts of Cebu were mostly destroyed.

The diver-instructor put it thus: "The city's coral reef is alive and kicking."

COUNCILOR DIVERS. Discussion on the coral reef also yielded the information that at least two councilors are into scuba diving ("I'm also a diver" was the giveaway line). They are Edu Rama and Jessica Resch. And Councilor Pesquera weighed in with the disclosure that the city's tourism program, which she also heads, includes diving.

***

Dairy News 'breaking' story

Sugbo News of the Cebu Capitol ran a correction of the post of "Cebu Dairy News" that carried a supposed breaking news ("Just in") that says "Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia signs an executive order prohibiting all kinds of gathering" in Cebu province "to keep the province free from Covid-19." The development came "after the Leni-Kiko tandem managed to gather 250,000 people in a grand rally held in Mandaue City."

The post is obviously a satire, with the name of the "news outlet" -- Cebu Dairy News -- as the first visible red flag. But, alas, there are still a lot of people who cannot or do not recognize a satire even if it bears the stamp "SATIRE" on its face. SunStar columnist Atty. Frank Malilong has become reluctant to use satire in his columns since he found out that many people took them seriously: for one satire column, he had to write a column or two afterwards to explain what he really meant.

Sugbo News's denial and disclaimer bore the mark FAKE NEWS, in all caps and red, with two exclamation points. And yet it must have "misled" many readers already, with the denial-disclaimer generating a bigger audience for the "FAKE NEWS."

***

Tell it to us.

[paseares1@gmail.com]