Malilong: Tit for tat, scratch for scratch

MAYOR Tommy just lost two of his consultants. Their appointments could not be renewed because the city council would not allow it. It was a tied vote, mirroring the current configuration in the city legislature. It fell upon Vice Mayor Edgar Labella to break the deadlock. He sided with his PDP-Laban and/or Barug Team Rama partymates.

Some of the objecting councilors claimed that public interest was behind their decision. I would have believed them if they said that all but a few of the city’s consultants are useless and a waste of people’s money because they do not perform any functions since they do not have any in the first place.

In comparison, Councilor Joey Daluz was honest about his reasons for voting to thumb down the two appointments. Osmeña did not give the opposition councilors their share of consultants, why should he give him his? Tit for tat. You scratch my back, I will scratch yours. You bite me, I’ll bite you back.

The mayor described the council action as harassment but he is used to it already. In fact, Osmeña and the Barug councilors have harassed and will continue to harass each other. The people are also used to it already.

Not that I think that the delivery of basic services has suffered or will suffer further because of the absence or inadequate number of consultants. You cannot trace the deplorable condition of our roads to the lack of the RA 15-30 employees, for example. There is only one reason for bad government service and it bad government.

•••

Interviewing former mayor Mike Rama is always a challenge and the one we had with him last Tuesday was no exception. Mike has made evading a question into an art. He will not give you a direct answer to even the simplest question if it will put him on the spot.

Like when I asked him if he had a timeline for resolving the matter of who between him and Labella will run against Osmeña in 2019. In reply, he mumbled something about the barangay elections in May but when I pressed him if that meant that after that, his group would finally have a standard bearer, he instead talked about how strong his alliance with Labella has remained.

Which role would he prefer to play, king or kingmaker, I asked. Mike said he was neither and then recalled how he was pilloried after showing up for a public function wearing emperor’s clothes. He would rather that he be known as a mover. I did not ask him to explain. Time was running out on us.

Our co-host Ellie Espinoza had more success than I did in eliciting more substantial information from the former mayor. Answering Ellie, Mike turned emotional recalling how he was suspended so easily when he was mayor. “Why is Osmeña still not suspended inspite of the number of cases filed against him,” he wanted to know.

If Osmeña is suspended and Labella becomes mayor, he will not entertain the idea of running for mayor anymore, Rama declared. Then he added, provided that he (Labella) runs the city well.

But who is going to judge that? I prudently did not pursue that any further.
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