Bzzzzz: Mayor Labella must be 'totally fit,' 'imprudent' if he works from home, not full-time at this stage of the crisis. Mayor Ahong's ban that never was. Broadcaster sorry for false news.

·4 min read

On this spot, Mike sleeps

A PHOTO has circulated showing Acting Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama sleeping on a bench while former city councilor Jun Alcover watches over him, making a naughty hand signal.

What does the photo tell? (a) EAM Mike's sleeping on the job. (b) He's too tired to find another place to nap. (c) He's doing a stunt, to impress people he's exhausted from work and is a simple man who isn't keen about comfort. Pick one.

Remember that photo of his sometime ago when he also slept on a bench at Carbon Market? The owner of the stall near it was tempted to put up a sign that says, "On this spot hard-working public official Mike Rama once slept to rest his tired bones."


Back 'very soon': good, bad news

Mayor Edgar Labella was discharged from the hospital Wednesday, August 4, after three weeks of confinement. He went on medical leave July 14 that was intended to last less than a week. He extended it, not the first time he did during his series of hospital stays.

The latest extension prompted Acting Mayor Rama to change his title to EAM, for "extended acting mayor."

City Administrator Floro Casas Jr. said Mayor Edgar will report back to work "very soon." That's good news for most residents who love and care for the mayor. But can be bad news for many people who want the City in capable hands during the pandemic.

Casas said Mayor Labella's regimen could be a mix of working from home and reporting at City Hall -- a hybrid, as the city manager put it.

That may "imprudent" and "unfair" to some elected public officials and residents who believe the City requires a "totally fit" mayor at this stage of the crisis, now that the City is under modified enhanced quarantine or MECQ and Covid infections are still to be controlled. Councilor Alvin Dizon in a recent session alluded to the City as a ship that requires one able ship captain, presumably totally capacitated and can work full-time and hands-on.

It must be a chief executive who can go quickly to where the trouble must take him, not someone desk-bound to home and, occasionally, City Hall.

This time, if Mayor Edgar's staff insists, concerned people who disagree might demand for no less than the word of the doctor or doctors treating the mayor.


Two false reports

There were at least two recent reports about Mayor Labella having passed away:

[] One was just a rumor that reached newsrooms, prompting editors to get ready for a last-minute change of Page 1 banner headline, which is a rare situation. No bad consequence there as the rumor was not confirmed and the change didn't happen.

[] The other was a one-sentence post on the Facebook page of a radio broadcaster, followed by condolence comments and shares of the news. The broadcaster apparently didn't verify the story, later said he'd verify it himself if they told him the hospital and the room where Mayor Labella was.

He refused to apologize and did not take down the post for days but finally relented and said he was sorry, on Thursday, August 5.

If he had a news editor or news director, the false story most likely wouldn't have seen publication as it wouldn't have passed thoroughly verification. Still it had passed by gate-keeping, the news outlet would've acted quickly to correct the error and promptly apologized.

The broadcaster didn't have one. He was on his own, as most of those who post on Facebook are. It thus falls on the news consumer to be alert and forewarned on which information to swallow.


Ahong's ban that never was

Why did Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard Chan "revoke" the controversial Executive Order #2021-040, which bans entry to shops and stores and other commercial centers without proof of vaccination?

One, it met a lot of criticisms from Lapu-Lapu voters. Two, it was opposed by IATF in Manila, which warned him against enforcing it.

Some people early on, though, suspected that Mayor Ahong used it merely to scare his constituents into having themselves vaccinated. He never really intended to go through with it. Even before his city was placed under MECQ or modified enhanced community quarantine, he had already said he wouldn't enforce the "no vaccine, no entry" provision if there would be no need for it. The August 25 date for implementation was the escape hatch for him to use in case things get hot. And they did, with the ill wind blowing from Lapu-Lapu and Manila.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque's reason that he attributed to Mayor Ahong was that the MECQ prompted the mayor to "revoke" the ban. Roque didn't say how a ban that never was could be revoked.

Most of Cebu knew that it was a gimmick, which probably worked if it had scared enough Oponganons to rush to vaccination sites. Must have done that, as the mayor congratulated his constituents, partly for believing it was for real.


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