Malilong: Mang Tomas

The Other Side
Malilong.SunStar file

While waiting for my case to be heard many years ago, I watched the arraignment of policemen who were accused of “salvaging” three alleged members of the Kuratong Baleleng at the reclamation area. There must have been about 15 of them and I wondered, barely audibly because I did not want to earn my first contempt citation, why there were so many of them.

The lawyer next to me apparently overheard my observation and replied that not everyone was actually present during the encounter or had any participation in the encounter that led to the killing but they had asked that their names be added to the list in the police report because it was a successful operation which could earn them a commendation, perhaps even a promotion.

An excellent (as usual) article in SunStar written by my mentor, PA Seares, on the performance of our two Cebu City representatives to Congress, reminded me of that scene in the courtroom a long time ago. Congressmen Cutie del Mar (North) and Edu Rama (South), he wrote, have not had one local bill passed since they assumed office on June 30, 2022.

“(T)he few national bills each helped pass were co-authored with scores or more than a hundred legislators.”

Fifteen policemen. A hundred legislators. Not all of the cops fired a shot or were at the scene of the encounter. Not every one of the legislators contributed anything to the crafting of the bills, not even a comma or a period.

“They need help,” former Cebu City mayor Tomas “Tommy” Osmeña observed in a text message yesterday.

In fairness to both, congressmen are not in Congress solely for the purpose of advancing parochial interests. Besides, they did file bills of local application. They just do not seem to know after almost two years in the office how to navigate the narrow passages in their House and steer passage of their measures.

They still have their shot at redemption. Here’s where.

At a wedding in Church last Saturday, I spoke to a city councilor who said that the city is now qualified in terms of area, income and population for three additional congressional districts, two in the south and one in the north.

“We’re just waiting for Edu and Cutie to file the bill,” he said. “We in the city council will support them.”

As members of successful political families, Rama and del Mar carry the burden of proving that they are more than the surnames that they carry, that they are eminently prepared for the job and that they are not firm arguments in favor of the passage of an anti-dynasty law as Osmeña averred in his text message to me.

“It is situations like these that justify the clamor for an anti-dynasty law,” the former mayor said. “What hurts the people is that it is discouraging ordinary people to run if they are unknown. Would Edu have gotten the votes if he ran as a Roa (his mother’s surname) and del Mar as Cutie whatever?”

Acknowledging that he himself belongs to a dynasty, Osmeña admitted that “there are bad Osmeñas” and that if an anti-dynasty law is passed he “wouldn’t mind running as Mang Tomas.”

With a little more than a year to go, is it time to shape up, Congressman and Congresswoman and prove everybody wrong?


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