Bzzzzz: Rama publicly asks mayor, 'Lend me your ears.' But City Council aborts move to have vice mayor named Covid czar.

·4 min read

THEY'RE talking about...

[1] ROQUE'S 'MANIGAS KAYONG LAHAT." Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said that as message to critics of President Rodrigo Duterte, boasting of the administration's accomplishments in infrastructure and "beating Covid-19," Friday, February 5. The Tagalog word "manigas" literally means harden or toughen but they say it has a colloquial meaning that some people would rather not say in public.

[2] GUV GWEN'S GOING AFTER EOC PERSONNEL, the six of them who managed a booth at the Mactan airport and allegedly misrepresented themselves as Capitol employees. The governor may address the request, to confront the six workers of Cebu City's Emergency Operations Center, to their chief or supervisor. The subordinates can't decide on their own. Even if it were a prosecutor summon or a court subpoena, the employees still consult their head of office. Or the governor may sue them with the ombudsman. But EOC Six were most likely just taking orders from their head of office. The explanation may come from their chief.

By the way, EOC employees had just gone through a stressful period which retired general Melquiades Feliciano, national anti-Covid task force chief implementer for the Visayas, said "affected the morale" of its workers. Feliciano blamed as part of the cause of the current spike in Covid cases in Cebu City to EOC's delay in "adjusting" to the development, a polite way of saying the EOC fumbled.

Rama's direct plea to mayor

Cebu City Councilor Alvin Dizon (BOPK) wanted Vice Mayor Mike Rama to lead the city's response against Covid-19 amid the current surge of infections. He filed a motion during the Sanggunian session Friday, February 5 (a continuation of Wednesday's, February 3 regular session), "urging" Mayor Edgar Labella to delegate to his vice mayor the job of leading the anti-coronavirus campaign.

Councilor Dizon told his colleagues (a) his motion was limited to Covid duties and didn't include all the other functions of the mayor and (b) he wanted the mayor "to get all help he needed" while he was still working from home because of a disclosed ear infection. Later, Dizon told SunStar his "sole intention" was "to help the city effectively combat Covid. Mayor Edgar needs all the help he can get to manage the pandemic."

Councilor James Cuenco suggested using the word "suggest" instead of "urge" in the Council's resolution to Mayor Labella. The authority to name an anti-Covid czar is solely the mayor's. Dave Tumulak said, "Let them talk to each other. Then we follow whoever leads on Covid." "Somebody has to lead," Councilor Raul Alcoseba said.

SPIKE IN CASES. Apparently, what set off Dizon's motion was the apprehension among the City Council members on the "upward trend" of Covid cases in Central Visayas, led by Cebu City.

As of Thursday, February 4, per Department of Health (DOH) figures, the total in entire Cebu was 259, with Cebu City logging 131; Lapu-Lapu City, 33; Mandaue City, 26; Cebu Province, 69; Bohol, 18; Negros Oriental, 14; and Siquijor 2.

The DOH graphic leads off with the specific heading that says "259 NEW CASES IN ENTIRE CEBU," apparently to avoid misunderstanding or confusion over which numbers go to Cebu City and the other LGUs in Central Visayas and which go to Cebu Province.

RAMA 'EMBARRASSED, DISAPPOINTED.' The city vice mayor's rant, or what sounded like one, during Friday's session sent the message that the situation was serious and Cebu City needed a leader who was actually on the ground.

"I am embarrassed (by this, having the city as epicenter again)." "I am disappointed."

To the VM, it was a crisis situation, serious, as he publicly addressed to "Mayor Edgar Colina Labella" his appeal, prefaced with Marc Antony's "Lend me your ears" line in Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar," said twice after uttering the mayor's full name.

MIKE WANTED LABELLA'S 'BODY AND SOUL' working against Covid. Obviously, he was not comfortable with the mayor working from home as the coronavirus threatens the city again. "We must act," Rama said, stressing the demand for leadership.

HE DIDN'T WANT TO TAKE OVER ("not my cup of tea"), or "usurp," "I am not after your position." (Anyway not now?) In the same breath, saying, not "without the proper procedure," which VM Rama must mean an authorization in writing.

At the same time, he talked of executive duties on the Covid crisis not being the job of legislators.

"We are only the City Council, we lay down policy, we recommend in the execution," but, he said, their recommendations -- repeating the earlier remark of Dizon, "99 percent of them," and the continual complaint of Councilor Noel Archival, minority floor leader -- were not being heeded by the executive department.

DIZON WITHDREW REQUEST. After the discussion, mostly expressions of apprehension and feeling of hopelessness, VM Rama asked Councilor Dizon to withdraw his motion. Which the councilor did. There was no formal resolution but the live-streamed talk must have sent the message to the mayor, especially the "Lend me your ears" part.

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