Malilong: A police garrison, then an internment camp

·3 min read

As with the South Road Properties, credit for the establishment of the Cebu City Sports Center (CCSC) belongs to former Cebu City mayor Tomas Osmeña. He fought for it along with Councilor Joy Young.

I should know because I had a bit role with the opposite side in that fight. First District Rep. Eduardo Gullas wanted the sports complex to be built in Talisay and I supported him because the proposed venue was much bigger than the Abellana oval and besides, he was my law office partner.

Osmeña and Young argued that Abellana was ideal because it was more accessible (there was no South Coastal Road yet at that time), never mind that the property was not owned by the City but by the Department of Education. In the end, accessibility won the argument over size and thanks to Osmeña, what was once a dirt track that turned muddy at the slighest rain has been replaced by an all-weather rubberized surface.

The oval has been resurfaced at least twice since its establishment, a testament to the pervasive use that the sports complex had served to so many people in so many events, many of them unrelated to sports or physical wellness such as the Sinulog, concerts and even religious gatherings and political rallies.

Last year, the sports center saw itself subjected to an even stranger makeover: it was converted into a police camp. When they enforced the lockdown because of the pandemic, City Hall and the police were worried that the restrictions might foment unrest so they decided to bring in police reinforcements from the provinces in Central Visayas and house them at the CCSC.

A sense of normalcy prevailed over the sports center when the police left a few months ago and the walkers, joggers and runners, who have been barred from the facility for more than a year, began to trickle in. But the good times are not going to last long, it turned out.

Middle of last week, Acting Mayor Michael Rama announced that he was going to convert the CCSC into a mega quarantine center. The CCSC’s regular clients are of course disappointed. What can we do, one of them asked me yesterday. Go somewhere else, I said. The sovereign has ruled. The fault is not in our stars, it is in that we are mere underlings. Some bloke wrote that by the way, a long time ago.

A police, and then an internment camp. I do not think Osmeña ever thought of these uses when he vigorously pushed for the CCSC. But then nobody thought of a Covid-19 pandemic at that time either.

I support Rama’s plan and I wish him plenty of luck. At the height of the first Covid surge last year, Rama was one of the most vocal critics of Mayor Edgar Labella’s handling of the pandemic. With Labella on extended leave, Rama is practically the mayor now and we are experiencing a third surge. Let’s see if he can do any better.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting