Malilong: Friends and so-called friends

Frank Malilong

AFTER Edgardo Labella won the election in May, I told our common friends to always remember that there is only one elected mayor of Cebu City. Do not let your exuberance get the better of you and tell the mayor how to govern. Make suggestions, I said, don’t pretend to advise.

Five months after he was installed, I still see some common friends acting like they were the mayor, telling Labella what to do even when what needed to be done is pretty obvious. Fortunately, none of them comes from our walking club. We want the mayor to succeed and like everyone else, we have ideas on what he could do to be successful but mostly, we keep them to ourselves unless the mayor asks for our opinion, which is very seldom.

Because he is our friend, we know that he will do the right thing or at least trust that he will do what he believes is the right thing under the circumstances. We are private persons and we have no political ambitions. That is probably what sets us part from Labella’s many other friends.

Of course, anyone can, in fact, should, tell the mayor, or for that matter, any public official how he expects him to behave and what he should do on matters of governance. That is our right.

But when the public official is only a text or phone call away, there is no need for you to give your advice through the media. That is grandstanding and it makes us wonder whether the friendship is really as healthy as we are made to believe.

It is not wrong to harbor ambitions and to give the public an idea of what they are but do it with good manners and right conduct. Any other way is a turn-off.

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Does the Commission on Audit (COA) really prohibit the City Government from donating to the Sinulog Foundation?

I did a little research and found a 10-year-old story written by The Freeman reporter Rene Borromeo on a COA circular that prohibits local government units “from giving aid to any nongovernment organization whose incorporator, director, organizer or officer is related to any local official involved in the approval or release of government funds.”

At the time the story was written, then Vice Mayor Michael Rama was the chairman of the Sinulog Foundation and the City Council had appropriated P10 million as aid to the foundation.

Tomas Osmeña, who was the Cebu City mayor at that time, said that if the COA does not exempt the donation from the application of its circular, Rama should resign as chairman. Rama also said that he was ready to step down if that was the only way to make possible the City’s donation.

So there.