LET us assume that Acting Mayor Margot Osmeña is vindictive and her vengeful nature was what drove her to demand the return to City Hall, supposedly for inventory, of all City-owned vehicles that suspended Mayor Michael Rama assigned to barangay captains and other officials.

Does that make Osmeña's order illegal? Does that justify the village leaders' obdurate refusal to heed the acting mayor's demand?

Let's look at the facts: One, these vehicles--Hilux and other high-end four wheelers, not the Innova that incoming president Rodrigo Duterte prefers for his Cabinet members and top officials--are owned by the city government of Cebu. It says so in their respective certificates of registration.

Two, the barangay captains and, in appropriate cases (meaning, when the captains were not Team Rama members) the barangay councilors, derived their right over the vehicles from a memorandum of agreement (memorandum order?), not a deed of sale or donation, signed by Rama. As earlier stated, ownership was not transferred to the barangays, only use and possession.

Three, Rama is operatively no longer the mayor. He was defeated in the May 9 election, a loss that he, I hasten to add, is protesting but the consequence of which he cannot, by that act alone, alter, at least in the meantime. His term is supposed to end on June 30 yet but a suspension order, for accepting calamity assistance in the princely sum of P20,000, unceremoniously cut it short.

And four, the mayor, in Rama's stead, is Mrs. Osmeña. The descriptive word, acting precedes her title but that is about the only difference between her and Rama's office. She is, for all intents and purposes, the chief executive of the city, entitled to all its perks, powers, privileges and prerogatives.

One of her first official acts was to order an inventory of all the city's rolling assets. To carry this out, she demanded that the vehicles be deposited in a specially designated garage. Unreasonable? Maybe. Unwise? Probably. Legal? Definitely.

If Osmeña acted unwisely and maliciously, let the people be the judge three years hence. But right now, her order will have to be obeyed. The vehicles' temporary possessors have to let go. It's a bitter pill to swallow but it is what it is. Weather-weather lang.

Having said that, let me voice out my misgivings over the mayor's choice of means in enforcing a right. True, the barangay officials had been repeatedly warned of the dire consequences that await obstinacy but I never imagined they would resort to the extreme measure of ordering a citizen's arrest for carnapping.

A case has been filed with the Ombudsman for the arrest so I won't discuss its merits. I have to state though that the arrest and subsequent detention strike me as rather heavy-handed. Couldn't the City have just applied for a writ of replevin with the courts and wait for the sheriff to deliver the vehicles to them?

In any case, it is still the barangay officials who hold they key, no pun intended, to a less stressful resolution of the issue. For over and above the oftentimes pompous claims and declarations by both sides, the real issue is who won -- and who lost -- in the last elections.

***

It's only ten in the morning as I write this but already I can hear someone singing “My Way,” accompanied by a karaoke, from a neighbor's house. It's unusual because they usually do their sing-along in the evenings. Right this very minute, a woman is screaming mightily to her microphone in a desperate effort to hit the high notes. I can tell that she has not had any success. The windows in our room are tightly shut but the shrill and horrendous poor excuse of a singing voice cannot be contained. I'm glad that they're doing this now instead of in the evening.

Thank you, president-elect Digong for making known your lack of tolerance for singing that robs others of sleep.

(frankotherside@gmail.com)