Thursday, August 05, 2021

Editorial: Power play in City Hall

THERE are two power bases at the Cebu City Hall and each of them is currently trying to put one over the other.

Mayor Tomas Osmeña, whose base is the executive branch, has been busy trying to go around his loss of control of the City Council, now dominated by the opposition Team Rama, by creating new bureaucratic layers intended to weaken the political opposition's advantage in the legislative branch.

He designated the six minority Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) councilors as deputy mayors, allowing them to exercise executive functions. The intention there is to go around the formerly dominant BOPK councilors' refusal to be assigned chairmanship or membership in the council's standing committees.

Osmeña also created the Barangay Mayor's Office (BMO) that some Team Rama councilors said duplicated the function of barangay health centers. Consider that majority of the barangay captains in the city are with Team Rama and barangay health center personnel are their appointees.

Not to be outdone, the City Council also flexed its muscle by authorizing Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella to represent the legislative body in the Metro Cebu Development Coordinating Board (MCDCB), which contradicts the announced plan of Osmeña for Cebu City to pull out of the MCDCB.

The move essentially thumbed down Osmeña's call for Labella not to follow the earlier suggestion of former mayor Michael Rama for Labella to attend the MCDCB meetings instead. For Osmeña, Labella can only attend MCDCB meetings in his personal capacity and not as representative of the City. He probably did not reckon with the possibility that Labella would be representing the City Council.

The question of what Labella can do in the MCDCB when the implementation of any of the group's programs needs to pass through Osmeña is still to be answered, however. What is obvious is that the move showed that it is not only Osmeña who could go around Team Rama's control of the City Council. The council can also go around Osmeña's control of the executive branch.

Whether that would benefit the city's constituents or not is another question altogether.

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