Malilong: Whining is the nature of the dog

Frank Malilong

THE Mayor’s Information and Liaison Office (Milo) is not a novel concept and there, apart from the fact that it is giving, even if unintentionally, undue propaganda mileage to an energy drink, lies the problem.

It is an established fact, as lawyers are wont to say, that former Mayor Tomas Osmeña originated the idea of a mayor’s extension office in every barangay in the city when he created the Barangay Mayor’s Office or the BMO. Mayor Edgar Labella’s Milo is merely an upgraded version of Osmeña’s invention.

As was during the era of the BMO, there are complaints of politicking in the organization of the Milo, except that this time, the ones who are complaining are those who benefitted from the BMO. Not surprising at all. That is the nature of the dog.

There is no need for Labella to sugarcoat it. The Milo will serve his political interests. With the Milo, he is assured of a political network in every barangay, one that is loyal to him. That is not a bad idea. In fact, I am surprised that he had not done it earlier.

That does not mean that his liaison officers will not be doing anything other than make the mayor more politically powerful. They will be his eyes and ears. Through them, he can countercheck reports coming through the regular channels, meaning from the barangay officials. Remember that the mayor has a duty to ensure that the acts of the city’s component barangays and of its officials and employees are within the scope of their prescribed powers, duties and functions. The Local Government Code says so.

Those who fear an overlap by the Milo on the functions of the barangay officials need only to refer to the Local Government Code which expressly defines their powers. If the mayor’s liaison officers interfere in the exercise of the officials’ duties, they can be charged with usurpation.

Thus, the Milo cannot negotiate, enter into or sign contracts in behalf of the barangay. Neither can he interfere in the execution of the contract even if he believes that it is disadvantageous to the barangay. What he can and should do is report his suspicions to the mayor.

The rule is different when a project is directly implemented by the City Government. As the mayor’s alter ego, the Milo may intervene in accordance with the specific instructions of the mayor.

When Osmeña was mayor, his BMO took over from the city health department the delivery of medicines to the sick. The village chiefs who were not allied with Osmeña, protested but failed to stop the practice. The BOPK captains smiled. Now, the shoe is on the other foot. Guess who’s protesting and who’s smiling now.

But of course. The Labella-allied barangay captain will not feel insecure because in all probability he is the one who will recommend the Milo. That is not so in most other cases where the Milo may be the candidate that the barangay captain defeated or was recommended by the losing candidate.

That’s tough but that is how the world operates. Sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down.