Seares: OPAV shut down since June 30. Marcos administration still has to decide on liaison office in Cebu. GMA had one, Noynoy didn't, Duterte's covered entire Visayas. BBM? 'Di mansiguro magbutang...'

CEBU. Former presidential assistants for the Visayas Michael Dino (left) and Felix Guanzon. (SunStar File)
CEBU. Former presidential assistants for the Visayas Michael Dino (left) and Felix Guanzon. (SunStar File)

MUM ON OPERATIONS. When OPAV, short for Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas, closed last June 30, no official announcement about its operations was made.

OPAV chief Michael Lloyd Dino, who led the office for six years, said good-by but didn't explicitly say if the office would be closed. A news story merely listed the officials whose terms were considered terminated, along with that of President Rodrigo Duterte and other similarly situated government executives. Perhaps they think the public will assume OPAV's closure from the announced departure of co-terminous officials.

So what's the score?

OPAV is definitely closed for business. OPAV's headquarters at The Greenery, Pope John Paul II Ave. in Mabolo, Cebu City have shut down since June 30.

Girlie Enriquez-Veloso, who held the rank of assistant secretary in Mike Dino's OPAV, told me Sunday, July 10. "Closed at the end of its term on June 30," she said. No turnover and no transition because "dili man siguro magbutang og OPAV." (They probably won't set up an OPAV.) "Siguro" means "sure" in Cebuano-Bisaya but also means "maybe" or "perhaps," which in the context she said it -- "it depends on the next administration" -- must mean the latter.

17 PERSONS IN STAFF. Only 17 people were authorized by then president Duterte's office for OPAV, which was to cover not just Cebu or Central Visayas but the three regions. Other employees were paid by Dino himself or presumably on detail from other government offices or agencies.

The nature of OPAV's major work -- linking people and LGUs that serve them with regional or national government agencies that deliver basic services -- apparently didn't require an army of workers. With the lean crew but with long and powerful reach, Dino's OPAV somehow succeeded in making the presence of the office of the president felt when people needed it most, particularly during pandemic and typhoons.

GOOD REASON. Mayor Mike Rama, earlier reported to have raised the question of OPAV's future to President Bongbong Marcos Jr., has kept his silence on what he told the president -- is the mayor for it, how much good does Rama think it would do for the City and the region -- and Marcos's response. Nothing regarding that, which City Hall publicist Cerwin T. Eviota said he'd ask the mayor about. Mayor Mike had talked more about having invited Marcos to the 2023 Sinulog, a thing close to the mayor's heart.

Marcos must find a good reason for having a presidential assistant based in Cebu City, which office, at least for two past presidents, filled a need. Such as: rewarding someone who helped a lot in the elections, having a trusted person as "eyes and ears" on the local political ground, or making the locals feel their president have the people's interest at heart. He might like direct interaction, not through surrogates.

GMA'S GUANZON. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, #14 president, started it four years into her 10-year term, with Malakanyang sa Sugbo (the former Aduana building) opened in 2004 as GMA's office in the south. Businessman Felix Guanzon was her "man in Cebu."

When #15 President Benigno Aquino III succeeded her in 2010, Noynoy abandoned the idea, and the local Malacañang damaged by earthquake in 2013, would be used after repairs and renovation by the National Museum. Duterte, #16 president, expanded the Cebu presidential assistant's office to become OPAV, not just for Cebu but for all Visayas. But OPAV held fort at The Greenery in Mabolo.

Marcos might decide to have an extension office in Cebu, as GMA did, or someone who'd represent him in the Visayas, as Duterte also did. Or Marcos might not: "dili siguro."


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