Editorial: Collateral damage?

THAT scene showing Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña confronting court sheriff El Cid Caballes, who was implementing a court order to demolish structures in Sitio Sta. Cruz in Barangay Capitol Site, can be seen in a number of ways. One can view it like Capitol Site Barangay Captain Manuel Guanzon did, as Caballes’s comeuppance. Or one can view it, as the mayor’s critics did, as an act of arrogance.

A video uploaded on Facebook showed the extent of the mayor’s anger at Caballes, whose ID lanyard he grabbed at one point while he issued dares and threats. But that still pales in comparison with what Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte did to another court sheriff also implementing a court demolition order in Agdao district in 2011. Duterte collared and punched him.

It would be interesting to find out how the judge of the concerned court would react to the mayor’s intervention. The mayor’s beef, which was apparently based on the complaint of some of the affected residents, was that structures in an area not included in the demolition order were targeted by Caballes, aside from the sheriff himself being accused as abusive. The court will have to look into that.

What seemed out of line, however, was the spectacle of the mayor being cheered on by the residents while confronting Caballes, which conjured scenes in movies where the “bida” uses force to subdue the “kontrabida” with the people egging the hero on by repeatedly shouting his or her name.

We don’t know if that was the mayor’s intention because he could have done the intervening in less conspicuous ways. But the mayor seems bent on playing up to the crowd now, making himself appear as their champion. Weeks before, he went to Manila to attend a congressional hearing to defend the operation of motorcycles-for-hire. He also did some “praise-worthy acts,” like being strict in the implementation of Sinulog rules and getting harsh on traffic violators. That is not to mention his giving of free maintenance medicines to senior citizens.

In this context, Caballes could merely be collateral damage.
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