THE Cebu City Council, or at least one of its committees, has finally dared to
challenge an act of the mayor, scrutinizing a supplemental budget and even inserting an item not included in the measure.
Before you jump for joy, here’s a caveat: this council is dealing with a different mayor.
When Tomas Osmeña (now congressman representing the city’s south district) held fort at City Hall, the council was derisively called a stamp pad, its members, except in some rare instances, following his orders without a complaint.
But the mayor now is Michael Rama, a totally different personality with a weak hold on the political fortunes of the city councilors.
Meaning, council members can afford to pretend to be independent now because they are beholden not to the incumbent mayor but to the one he replaced.
Consider Councilor Jose Daluz III, chairman of the committee on budget and finance and a known Osmeña loyalist.
Had it been the former mayor who tossed to the council Supplemental Budget No. 3, would Daluz have helped tinker with the measure by slashing funding for some key projects and even inserting an item that was not in Rama’s original proposal?
Of course, the council recovering its voice is not bad; in most instances, developments like this are welcomed because they approximate the purpose of our democratic setup.
This also sends a message to Rama that he can’t be like Osmeña and that this council can’t be his stamp pad.
The setup, however, can take a sinister turn especially if one considers the tenuous relationship between Rama and Osmeña.
There is no indication as yet that the former mayor is starting to exert his influence on the council, but he may do so if the incumbent continues to follow his own independent path in governing the city.
The supplemental budget brouhaha has therefore given Rama and the public a glimpse of what will happen if his relationship with Osmeña takes a turn for the worse.
At this stage, however, the council showing an independent bent is a welcome development.