Labella creates 30 special bodies, commissions to solve City’s woes

Rona T. Fernandez - Jerra Mae Librea

AT LEAST 30 commissions and special bodies focusing on traffic management, scholarship, law enforcement and motorcycles-for-hire, among others, have been convened and created by Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella in his first six months in office. And some of them are staffed by allies and wives of partymates.

A report from the City Administrator’s Office revealed that as of Oct. 15, 2019, the mayor had convened the special bodies since assuming office last July.

Labella said these committees have specific tasks and address specific concerns.

Among the special bodies he has formed, the water advisory council and traffic management council are the ones he focuses on as these tackle the City’s most urgent problems.

For months, the water advisory council has been submitting recommendations which he will relay to the new set of directors of the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD).

The traffic management council, too, has been conducting studies to solve the city’s traffic problem. The first three bodies brought together were the bids and awards committees for goods and consulting services (July 16) and infrastructure (July 25), and the joint venture-selection committee (July 25).

On July 30, Labella convened the following special bodies: Cebu City Development Council, Local Housing Board, Sports Commission, Youth Development Commission, Disaster Coordinating Council, Hillyland Management Board, Local Health Board, Local School Board and the Market Authority.

Two separate people’s law enforcement boards for the north and south districts, Zoning Board, Motorcycle-for-hire Regulatory Board and the Terminal Accreditation Committee were also created at that time.

Other special bodies later convened were the Tourism Commission, Accelerated Social Amelioration Program (ASAP) Board, Mining Regulatory Board, Cultural Historical Affairs Commission, Anti-Discrimination Commission, and Private Sector Organizations Evaluation and Monitoring Board.

The special bodies that were formed were the Scholarship Program Committee, Cooperative Development Council, Gamefowl Commission, Parks and Playgrounds Commission, Women and Family Affairs Commission and the Traffic Management Coordinating Committee.

Labella’s allies

A total of 199 City Hall elected officials, department heads and private individuals sit as members of these special bodies.

Among the private individuals appointed by Labella are political allies and wives and relatives of his partymates who ran but lost in the last election.

They include former councilor Pastor Alcover Jr., Alfie Ayuman, Vanessa Herrera and Melody Yap.

Alcover, who sought reelection but lost in the May 13, 2019 elections, sits as member of the traffic committee and gamefowl commission.

Ayuman and Herrera, on the other hand, represent the private sector in the women and family commission while Yap sits as member of the tourism commission.

Their husbands, Ramil Ayuman and Ernest Herrera, had sought seats in the city council to represent the north district in the last elections but lost. Yap is the wife of defeated north district congressional candidate Richard Yap.

Former councilor Jocelyn Pesquera, on the other hand, sits as chairman of the tourism commission. She had run for the south district’s congressional seat in the May 2019 polls, but lost to reelected Rep. Rodrigo Abellanosa.

Labella admitted that his allies’ appointment may be called “political accommodation,” but what’s important, he said, is that they are all qualified to hold the post.

He said he is looking at the technical expertise in appointing the chairs of the special bodies.

As for the elected officials, City Council majority leader Raymond Alvin Garcia serves the most number of special bodies.

These include the commissions on anti-discrimination, parks and playgrounds, gamefowl and sports. He is also with the ASAP board, private sector board, city development council zoning board, local housing board and the hillyland board.

Next to Garcia is Vice Mayor Michael Rama, who serves the commissions on parks and playground, tourism, cultural and historical affairs, as well as the motorcycle-for-hire board, local health board, hillyland board and the disaster council.

City Attorney Rey Gealon, though, takes the lead by being a member of 11 special bodies.

How does he ensure that while serving these commissions, the City Legal Office (CLO) would still be able to deliver its tasks?

“Delegation is key,” Gealon told SunStar Cebu.

Assigning CLO lawyers to represent their office during meetings is among the measures Gealon has been taking since assuming office.

The same method to maximize responsibilities is applied by City Treasurer Jerone Castillo.

As for the honorarium of the members, Castillo said Budget Officer Marietta Gumia had explained that the budget for meetings is on a lump sum appropriation under the office of the mayor.

The compensation, honorarium, per diem or any other benefits, though, will be based on the ordinances and applicable rules and regulations of the Commission on Audit.

But only members from the private sector can get their honorarium as this excludes City Hall employees.