Bzzzzz: Bebot Abellanosa's blast on fire trucks at Labella funeral could be a dud...Mayor Mike hired first woman city administrator in 2014. Then acting mayor Margot's C.A. was hired in 2016.

·4 min read

Who's to blame

REPRESENTATIVE Rodrigo "Bebot" Abellanosa posted Friday, November 26, on his Facebook page a one paragraph "istorya" that he headlined "BREAKING NEWS!" (all caps are his), accompanied with four photos of the fire in Mambaling, Cebu City, one photo bigger than the rest.

It read: "Dakong sunog karon sa Mambaling. Daghang fire trucks wala ka responde kay gigamit sa mga rota sa funeral procession ni Mayor Edgar Labella, nahutdan sa tubig kay gigamit sa water salute pag-agi sa patay nga lawas."

The outgoing congressman of the city's south district, whose son BG Rodrigo is running against Barug Councilor Edu Rama, was referring to the water salute, in which the vehicle carrying Mayor Labella's coffin passed under plumes of water expelled by a fire truck or trucks.

'ATTACK PROPAGANDA.' Kong Bebot's post was hooted down by sympathizers of Mayor Labella as "cheap political propaganda." They must have noticed that:

(1) The fire in Mambaling broke out at 5:06 p.m. on that Friday and the funeral had ended long before that and the fire trucks were no longer at the funeral route.

(2) The fire trucks were at various places of the route and not massed and tied up at one place, thus each truck could leave and return to the fire station once the procession passed by the vehicle.

(3) The fire salute from each truck required only little water and couldn't have emptied the vehicle.

Kong Bebot's criticism rested on the single point that the trucks were emptied of water because they were earlier used for the ceremonial water salute. Thus, it wouldn't matter provided the fire trucks were back at their station when the Mambaling fire broke out. What's crucial is whether they were empty and if they were emptied because of the water salute for Labella, whether the fire department had time to refill the vehicles to make them ready for any emergency. Which was wrong, the use of the fire trucks for the ritual or the failure of the fire department, if it did, to prepare them for the emergency?

Records at the fire department and the mayor's office may help check out the story: Was the use of fire trucks authorized by law or regulations? If that was allowed by rule or practice, was a back-up measure required for any fire emergency and was that taken?

TOO SOON? Bebot may have a legitimate reason to ask but not immediately, not rashly, before the facts were in. Thus, he opened himself to similar treatment in social media comments.

And the return fire inevitably included such question as the one from dySS broadcaster Bobby Nalzaro who asked, What had Bebot done as congressman to improve access of fire trucks through narrow streets into interior areas of barangays and sitios in his district?

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1st woman city manager: Mercado

The first woman city administrator in Cebu City was not Veronica Morelos. It was Lucille Mercado whom then mayor Michael Rama appointed during his 2013-2016 term. Morelos was appointed by then acting mayor Margot Osmeña, who served the last few months of Rama's term, while Mercado assumed office in the earlier part of that term. Mercado replaced Engr. Eugene Elizalde who quit on February 3, 2014 barely a month after Elizalde replaced Engr. Jose Mari Poblete, who moved to the city engineer's post.

So first, it was Mercado, an obstetrician-gynecologist who headed the CAIB or City Anti-Indecency Board and the city's Health Board before his stint as woman city administrator. Then, Veronica Morelos and, just this week, Ma. Suzanne Ardosa.

Publicist Cerwin Eviota corrected an earlier item in Bzzzzz about Morelos who, former city administrator Bimbo Fernandez said, "as far as I know, was the first woman administrator" at City Hall. The sequence of appointments, it turns out, gives that title to Lucelle Mercado, wife of Rama's cousin Rene Mercado (whom Rama also appointed as MCWD board chairman). A February 4, 2014 story in a news site was headlined "Rama appoints supporter as first female city administrator."

Mercado said then about her filling up a generally-for-men post: "If you don't look at the position as power, there's no problem" about a woman doing the job. She held the C.A. post even as she also headed several other special bodies at City Hall. At the time, she said she gave up her medical practice "to take care of her three children" -- and obviously all the work for the City Government.

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