Bzzzzz: Cebu City Hall is run by 2 councilors, both acting. Rama tells employees: don’t play while the cat is away. And about ‘not leaving friends behind.’

·4 min read

THE acting mayor, Vice Mayor Michael Rama, is on leave of absence from November 16 to 29. He will stay in Cebu City, he said, and will be on call. Meantime, the City Government will be in the hands of two city councilors.

In Rama’s absence, the acting mayor is Councilor Donad “Dondon” Hontiveros, the No. 1 councilor.

And the acting vice mayor is Councilor David Tumulak, the No. 2 councilor.

The two Barug councilors, from the south district, topped the 2019 elections: Dondon, 161,347 votes; David, 156,755 votes. Bando Osmeña – Pundok Kauswagan’s (BOPK) Nestor Archival Sr. ranked #3, 124,466 votes. The ranking, with the privileges that go with it, is one reason even party-mates among themselves compete for votes.

In a letter dated November 16, Local Government & Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano ordered Councilor Tumulak to “assume the powers and perform the duties and functions as vice mayor” specified in Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) memorandum-circular #2019-21. Councilor Tumulak confirmed to Bzzzzz his receipt of Ano’s order. Wednesday, November 17, Tumulak presided over the Sanggunian session. The councilor’s temporary job ends when Acting Mayor Rama “declares” to the City Council that he has reported back to work.

Acting Vice Mayor Hontiveros was designated by Rama as acting mayor during his 13-day leave. Rama announced the temporary succession at the flag ceremony last Monday, November 15. Under the Local Government Code, the takeover is “automatic,” which Acting Mayor Dondon said Cebu City DILG, through OIC Ian Kenneth Lucero, confirmed to him. Still, DILG issued the formal order to Tumulak even as the City Council, under the law, was required to “vote” on his assumption as presiding officer.

To help Hontiveros and Tumulak, Rama said last Monday, will be his management persons,” which may be the equivalent to then mayor Tomas Osmeña’s “management team” in his 2016-2019 stint.

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Playing cat-&-mouse; rocking the boat

Acting Mayor-now-on-leave Mike Rama uses a lot of idioms and clichés as catchphrases in his “motivational” speeches. Last Monday, he kept repeating three:

(1) “Don’t play while the cat is away,” for employees who might not work as they must during his two-week leave of absence, as if they do work hard even while the mayor is physically present at City Hall, be it Mayor Edgardo Labella or Acting Mayor Rama;

(2) “Won’t rock the boat,” which seems to assure politically-hired workers of a safe tenure but actually does not, as it has a “colatilya,” a thinly veiled warning not to renew appointments of those who might not vote straight Barug.

(3) “Don’t test me,” which has cropped up in his talks since he became a full-fledged acting mayor, when Mayor Labella’s leave exceeded 30 days, empowering Rama to exercise all the rights of the mayor, including the right to hire, suspend, and fire.

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Substituting candidates–and parties

The November 15 deadline enabled not just the last-hour substitution of candidates but also of political parties.

Sara Duterte-Carpio changed her bid for reelection as mayor to being candidate for vice president. But she also dropped her Hugpong sa Pagbabago Party to embrace Lakas–Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD), the party in her new certificate of candidacy.

Both Senator Bong Go and President Duterte were supposed to have left PDP-Laban to run as president and senator, respectively. Their new party: the previously-unheard-of PDDS or Pederalismo ng Dugong Dakilang Samahan.

Members of the same local party are allowed substitution via voluntary withdrawal, but there’s no requirement on the date for changing parties, even a recent or after-the-substitution withdrawal seems to be allowed.

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Mike’s friends whom Barug supports

Barug standard bearer Mike Rama’s reason for the local party’s support to Bong Go, for president; Sara Duterte- Carpio, vice president; and President Duterte and former president’s spokesman Harry Roque, senators: “They are my friends. Friends do not leave their friends behind.”

The more specific reason: “their promise to (President} Duterte to support whoever he will endorse to succeed him.”

No time cut-off on that promise, it would seem. The endorsement, in time before the balloting next May 9, might include daughter Sara’s standard bearer, Bongbong Marcos, especially when her candidacy’s success would be tied with Bongbong’s victory.

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