Bzzzzz: Mayor Labella resets state-of-the-city report. Shutout of BOPKs from Sanggunian committees continues. Video clip shows then VM Edgar thanking, praising mayor Mike Rama.

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Status quo, no-show, AVP

UNDER-REPORTED was the story Wednesday, July 7, at the Cebu City Council where these happened:

[1] A reorganization at the start of the third and last year of the City's 15th Sanggunian kept the same officers and committee chairpersons, still with a complete shutout of the minority BOPK.

That is, except for the heads of Association of Barangay Councils and Sangguniang Kabataan Federation, which by intent of the law are non-partisan but almost always controlled by political parties, in this case, BOPK.

[2] Mayor Edgardo Labella did not show up for a state-of-the city address, thanking the councilors for the invitation but saying his doctors restrict him from some activities that could impede speedy recovery from "sepsis," which with onset of pneumonia prompted his three-week leave that ended last June 30. He will submit his report virtually at a later date still to be set.

[2] Vice Mayor Michael Rama, presiding officer, reminded his elected colleagues that to take over on July 1 next year is a new set of officers who, or some of whom, might no longer be the ones sitting in the session hall at the moment. He invited all his staff and his key supporters to the session, as if it were a significant chapter in Rama's political career; he said it was.

[3] An audio-visual presentation presented not just the year's work of councilors but also VM Rama's "key achievements," highlighting his role as vaccine head convenor, in-charge of Sinulog cultural activities (all virtual last year), and the regular city-wide cleanup campaign.

The new building of the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) is described in the video as conceived and started "during his term" and is his "initiative and idea." Mike's project is being realized with the help of the private sector, the narrator says. No mention of anyone else, surely not Mary Ann de los Santos, former city councilor, a BOPK member who recently publicized her claim that the new hospital was inspired by her "Piso Mo, Ospital Ko" campaign (it raised P16 million when it ended in December 2014 after one year).


Thanking, praising Mike

More intriguing than the rah-rah-rah presence of VM Rama's staff and political supporters at the session was the inclusion of a clip in the AVP, showing a celebratory scene, perhaps at a victory rally in the May 2013 elections, in which then vice mayor Labella thanked his mayor for having chosen him as running mate, "Kong di pa nimo Mayor Mike, di ko mahimong vice mayor. Salamat sa imong pagsalig." And Labella went on to praise Rama to the high mountaintops.

VM Mike told the first session for the Sanggunian's last season that he wished the mayor were there personally but, ala Moses in the move, Rama said, "as it was written, it shall be done." A City Hall watcher told Bzzzzz Labella wouldn't have been overjoyed by the video, what with the heavy stress on Rama's achievements and, notably, that clip about Edgar thanking and adulating then mayor Rama. His absence though may not enable him to avoid watching it. The session was live-streamed and accessible any time after that -- and Mike talked about sending the mayor a copy of the video.


100% attendance

Not lost on VM Rama, along with City Hall watchers, was the rare 100 percent attendance of City Council members.

He did not ask or offer a reason. The most plausible explanation: no councilor wished to miss the historic event, as evidenced by the group picture-taking.


Raymond's rating of Year 2

Interesting sidelights at the July 7 session:

[1] Majority Floor Leader Raymond Alvin Garcia said that to him the just-concluded year of the 15th Sanggunian was "the best Cebu City has even seen," the "most productive and responsive," which he said answered Mayor Labella's challenge for the city to be more business-friendly. Councilor Junjun Osmeña says it is his "impression" that it was one of the best in the City Council's legislative history.

[2] Raddie Diola, former Cebu City School Board mayor's rep, was among the persons invited by VM Rama, acknowledged by the presiding officer as the "top tune" of the day, obviously for having been sacked by the mayor for alleged affiliation with Mike's camp. Did Diola's being among Rama's select guests confirm the Labella camp's suspicion?

[3] Among the segments contributed by 12 of 18 councilors, standing out is that by Councilor Phillip Zafra. In content or substance (about food security and a regional food terminal) and packaging and delivery, it is the kind that attracts voters and convinces them to reelect Zafra. Minus some rough edges and with more technical savvy, the clip will make good propaganda material.

[4] Confusing ad-libs by VM Rama include "amahan sa iyang anak" (referring to Maning Legaspi) and "anak sa iyang amahan" (Coping Fernandez), both former councilors. Whatever the difference, it was lost on the audience.

[5] Some councilors didn't lend their voice to the presentation, just photos and a lot of text, which on phone screens were not readable at all. One recited the piece as if it was being read from a placard or something. They can still improve their material for the campaign.

[6] Six councilors were not seen or heard in the video. Maybe they missed the deadline. Councilor Alvin Dizon, among the six, said he posted his second year accomplishments on Facebook last July 1. He and Minority Floor Leader Noel Archival, another councilor who missed out, posted a message of legislative work they did together.

[7] Of the dozen featured councilors, only Councilor Niña Mabatid spoke about giving a lot of aid to her constituents during the pandemic, listing the services she offered like a menu for some feast. And she used the word "personal" twice to describe funds she spent and vehicles she used. No, she didn't mention "ungo sa City Hall," whom she had complained against publicly for several months for, among other alleged sins, depriving her of City Hall food and medicines she herself wanted to distribute.


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