Nalzaro: Franklin Ong’s Epal

Bobby Nalzaro

IS ASSOCIATION of Barangay Councils (ABC) president Franklin Ong seeking a higher elected position in the next elections? I pose this question as it was observed that he is promoting himself through E-pal. E-pal derives from the Filipino term “papel” or “pumapel,” which means one who likes to be always in the scene or be given attention. The anti-Epal law of 2016 seeks to address this issue by prohibiting and penalizing government officials who habitually post their names and faces on government projects funded by taxpayers’ money.

Two weeks ago, Ong distributed one motorcycle to each of the city’s 80 barangays at the Plaza Independencia. Each motorcycle had a sticker markings: “One New Government” (ONG). There were also tents mounted around the venue bearing the same markings.

What is Ong’s intention? To promote himself among the barangay captains? What for? Where did Ong get the budget for those motorcycles? Was that an ABC budget? If it was an ABC budget, then it was inappropriate on his part to use that budget to promote himself. He should be ashamed of himself.

If Ong used his own money or it came from his Pasajero Motors Corp. (Pamocor), there is no problem. He can advertise himself if he wants.

I have heard that he is interested in running for vice mayor if “has-been” mayor Tomas Osmeña is still interested to run in the 2022 elections. Well, we cannot stop a man from pursuing his ambition. But he is too ambitious. I also heard that Ong is interested in partnering with South District Rep. Rodrigo “Bebot” Abellanosa, who is groomed to be the mayoralty candidate of the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK), if Osmeña will retire from politics.

Ong, a barangay captain of Kasambagan, was one of the top campaign fund contributors of BOPK. He cornered a good number of projects and supplies during the stint of Osmeña. He owns Pamocor, which won the bidding of vehicles and office supplies and garbage collection in the city. If, God forbids, Ong wins, the city might become a personal business enterprise.

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Vice Mayor Michael Rama called me up last Saturday and clarified what I wrote in my column on that day: “Rama disappointed with Labella.”

Rama stood pat that the Sinulog Foundation Inc., (SFI) cannot really accept the financial assistance from the City Government because of the Commission on Audit (COA) rules. Only the City Government can spend and liquidate the financial assistance directly to the winners of the Sinulog festivities. This has been going on since year 2000.

He expressed lament that there are now people who do much of the talking about Sinulog activities when it should only be the executive director, Jojo Labella, who should talk about the activities. He specifically mentioned Cebu City Sinulog Governing Board member Kenneth Cobonpue. In what capacity does Cobonpue have to talk about Sinulog, Rama asked?

On some policies of Labella, Mike said he is in the process of consulting their supporters, especially barangay captains, about their thoughts on Labella’s administration. The group’s input will be presented to Labella for his consideration.