Editorial: Political drama in Lapu-Lapu City

·2 min read

IN local governments in the Philippines, a City Council or Provincial Board that has no opposition is a bad thing because it could become a rubber-stamp entity—it could railroad processes and surrender to the whims of its political boss, either the sitting local executive or an influential person hiding in the shadows.

The opposition is vital in checking the sitting executive’s actions. Without the opposition, the executive branch could enter into contracts with private companies without scrutiny.

Checking the executive branch’s moves is a good thing as it is a sign of a working democracy. However, a local legislative body dominated by the opposition could also sabotage the administration by intentionally blocking the latter’s initiatives for no other reason, except that they belong to opposing parties.

A seasoned politician knows this: Making an opposing political party and political enemies look bad in the eyes of the public is a way to hurt their image.

In Lapu-Lapu City, the political telenovela has heated up less than five months before the May 2022 elections. The two big-name candidates for the Office of the Mayor in the city are reelectionist Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan and Lapu-Lapu’s lone district Rep. Paz Radaza. The two camps have been throwing mud at each other.

The City Council is dominated by local lawmakers allied with Radaza. Chan’s allies in the council are in the minority.

The political schism in Lapu-Lapu is evident with the City’s response to the Typhoon Odette aftermath.

Lapu-Lapu City has money for its calamity fund for residents affected by Typhoon Odette. The City Council, in mass motion, approved the release of the calamity fund last week and it wants the distribution done through the barangays. The allocation for each of the 30 barangays is not uniform.

Chan vetoed the release of the calamity fund, describing the allocation per barangay as unfair. He also wants the City Welfare and Development Office to conduct the distribution. Thus, the mayor called for a special session on Tuesday, Dec. 28.

The special session pushed through, with the City Council increasing the calamity fund from P236 million to P302 million, which is part of the P317 million Annual Investment Plan (AIP). The rest of the AIP is allocated for the repair of the City Hall (P10 million) and purchase of generator sets (P5 million). Majority of the councilors still want the distribution done through the barangays. It is now up to the mayor to ink the release of the calamity fund.

If Mayor Chan would still insist on channeling the calamity fund distribution through the city welfare office, the residents affected by Typhoon Odette would still have to wait longer.

And the mayor, his allies and his political enemies know that the ultimate victims of their political drama are their constituents who badly needed help from public officials they had elected to serve them.

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