WILL the relationship between Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama and the trusted aides of the late mayor Edgardo Labella now be broken with the latter’s passing?
Lawyer Floro Casas Jr., the late mayor’s city administrator of more than two years, described the ship built by Labella as sinking. He complained of oppression and warned that a political announcement was forthcoming.
“Mayor, we feel that our boat, the boat that you made, is sinking,” Casas said during the necrological service for Labella at Cebu City Hall Friday, November 26, 2021.
Casas said they now feel alone and at a loss on what to do.
Casas said he understood that in his case, his employment was co-terminous with Labella but what hurts him is that City Hall employees would be subjected to a month’s evaluation to determine if their contracts would be renewed.
Earlier, Mayor Michael Rama, who was Labella’s vice mayor before taking the top post after Labella’s death, had said, “I won’t rock the boat,” on the question of what would happen to City Hall employees. But last Monday, Rama announced a monthlong evaluation of all City Hall employees on which their tenure would rest.
Casas, whom Rama replaced with Suzzane Ardosa as city administrator last Wednesday, described Labella as the “best mayor” who did not interfere in matters unrelated to his work.
“I am proud to say that in Mayor Edgardo Labella’s two terms as vice mayor, he never interfered in running the executive department of Cebu City,” said Casas in a seeming broadside against Rama.
“Sa akong pagkaila, ang akong mayor dili palaaway, ang akong mayor dili traydor, ang akong mayor dili hilabtanon,ang akong mayor dili bakakon ug ang akong mayor dili plastic.”
[As far as I knew him, my mayor (Labella) was not quarrelsome. My mayor was not a traitor. My mayor did not interfere in the work of others. My mayor was not a liar and my mayor was not plastic.]
Calling upon Labella, who had survived the sinking of a passenger ship in 1998, Casas said, “Please guide us so that like you we will survive this tragedy and we will survive this oppression.”
Labella’s alter ego said their group would make a decision in the coming days in regard to politics.
Nearly 200 vehicles accompanied the convoy that brought Labella to his final resting place at the Golden Haven Memorial Park in Barangay Binaliw Friday, while thousands of people lined the roads along the route from the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, where his funeral mass had been held at noon.
Councilor Dave Tumulak said at least 5,000 people waved their pictures of Labella, and hoisted their tarpaulins and flags inscribed with words of affection for the late mayor.
Police Major Alvin Llamedo of Police Station 8 of the Cebu City Police Office estimated that as many as 8,000 people brought Labella to the cemetery, including employees of the Cebu City government and barangays, members of multi-sectoral groups and other guests.