CEBU. Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama before MCWD Employees Union (left), and Councilors Nestor Archival and Joel Garganera. (Cebu City PIO/SunStar File)
CEBU. Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama before MCWD Employees Union (left), and Councilors Nestor Archival and Joel Garganera. (Cebu City PIO/SunStar File)

Seares: Cebu City to spend P11.5 million for Independence Day celebration, including P7.74M for inter-brgy festival contest, P1.38M for Independence Day ball. ‘Too big. Gabaan tingali ta ini,’ says Minority Leader Archival... Kons Garganera-promised NGCP report came 'in no time' ... Mayor Mike surveys MCWD employees.

THE Cebu City Government has appropriated a total of P11.5 million for the 125th Independence Day 2023 celebration: first, P900,000 for a drum and bugle corps competition and second, an additional P10.6 million for the weeklong celebration, including the day itself, June 12, a Monday.

Theme of the 125th festivity, the first under the administration of President Marcos Jr., is "Kalayaan, Kinabukasan, Kasaysayan."

'PWERTENG DAKOA.' A breakdown made at the City Council session of Wednesday, May 24, 2023, by Councilor Noel G. Wenceslao, chairman of the committee on budget and finance, says P340,000 will go to the morning program: 400 pack meals at P350 each; and 1,000 flaglets at P100 each.

For the weeklong celebration: P965,000 for T-shirts, polo shirts, and tarpaulin signs. For Independence Day ball, P1,380,000; photo exhibit, P17,000.

And 7,745,000 for Barangayan cultural competition, which Councilor Phillip S. Zafra described as prelude to Sinulog Philippines in 2024.

Minority Floor Leader Nestor D. Archival Sr. told his colleagues: "Pwerteng dakoa ini. Gabaan tingali ta." He asked that the City Council look for other, less expensive ways to celebrate Independence Day. Many people are hungry, he said. He didn't ask though if the City could afford it or shouldn't the City reassess its priorities. And his colleagues didn't pick up Archival's suggestion. (On "gaba": It's a "concept of a non-human, non-divine, imminent retribution," an "evil effect on a person because of wrongdoing or transgression.")

THREE ABSTAINED. No councilor disputed Archival's argument, which came out more of a sound byte than a solid attack on the kind of spending. Kons Wenceslao didn't bother to defend the budget, except to say it was prepared by the executive department, specifically the mayor's office.

And instead of opposing the proposal with a "no" vote, three councilors, including Archival and Mary Ann de los Santos, merely abstained. There are three reasons -- says a 2016 study of Gotham Gazette, a non-partisan watchdog publication based in New York City -- for abstention in such local legislatures as the City Council:

* Out of ethics, such as conflict of interest;

* Out of politics, when the councilor does not wish to make "a politically inexpedient vote"; or

* Out of ambivalence, when one is not sure about the merits of the issue voted upon.

Many people encourage legislators not to shirk from their duty to vote. A widely known quote from the "no-abstention" mantra: "I have one job. That job is to vote." If a councilor abstains, he must tell why, unless it's to promote interest of party or self, in which case he may opt to keep quiet.

***

MIKE'S MCWD SURVEY. A dialogue by Mayor Mike Rama with MCWD employees Tuesday night, May 23, included an informal survey, for each member of the MCWD Employees Union "to write on a piece of paper if they believe" as true the allegations of the previous union leaders against chairman Jose Daluz III and other directors.

The city's News & Information outlet has not publicized the precise phraseology of the question or the results of the survey. Someone knowledgeable about the event told me the number of people polled was 89 for the first day, Tuesday, and 222 for the second day, Wednesday. Former city administrator Floro Casas Jr., reacting to the CCNI news about the survey, told me it was a two-day "waste of time" for the mayor, the City Hall workers accompanying him, and MCWD employees.

Apparently, the mayor wanted to know if the grievances of the previous MCWD workers union under president Abigail Almeria are still the sentiment of the current union led by president Samuel Suson. Casas said he didn't know ("ambot") the mayor's "endgame."

Mayor Mike's action against chairman Daluz -- in the form of a show-cause order from the City Legal Office, which may lead to Daluz's removal as chairman and/or member -- is claimed to be based on the Ombudsman endorsement (to the mayor) of the MCWD union's complaint against the Daluz-led board.

The state of things at MCWD? From the mayor's "legalistic" moves, there is yet no official order of Daluz's replacement, meaning he is still serving as MCWD chairman, which he has vowed he'll do until the board decides formally to remove him.

***

'WHERE'S THE REPORT?' Recall that tense moment in the Cebu City Council regular session of May 10, 2023 when Minority Floor Leader Nestor Archival Sr. called "nonsense " the series of meetings of the committee on environment and natural resources.

Committee chairman Councilor Joel C. Garganera flared up briefly, asking Archival why he called the activity nonsense. Without the report of NGCP or National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, the meetings are nonsense, Archival said. NGCP would build a transmission line in Malubog and a family in that mountain barangay fears it might fall on its house in case of strong winds or during wet season. Where's the report, Archival repeatedly demanded from Garganera.

Kons Joel's answer: "In due time." Archival echoed, "In due time," with some trace of skepticism. "In due time" means "eventually, at an appropriate time," which is as unspecific as can be. But Garganera could've said "in no time" -- meaning, very quickly or very soon" --because, he told me last May 12, less than 10 minutes later "my staff provided me the copy and I personally handed (Nestor) the document."

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