Nalzaro: Labella’s double talk, indecisiveness?

Bobby Nalzaro

IS CEBU City Mayor Edgardo Labella engaged in double talk? Is he indecisive or is he surrounded by people who are out to sabotage his administration? I pose this question following complaints I received from the various barangays that he negated his promise that his administration is an “inclusive government.” Meaning, he welcomes everybody regardless of political affiliation.

Upon his assumption, Labella keeps on saying that his administration is “inclusive.” That he will set aside political differences, will coordinate and cooperate with all parties. He promised to work with all elected officials, whether they come from his own party, Barug-PDP Laban, or from the opposition, Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK).

“If it is a critical collaboration, it is a very healthy exercise in a democratic society like ours,” he was quoted as saying in an interview days after he assumed office. He said he is even willing to sit down and talk with his predecessor and political nemesis, “has-been” mayor Tomas Osmeña, whom he defeated in the May 2018 elections by over 18,000 votes.

To some extent, he was true to his promise of an “inclusive government.” He promised to provide each councilor, whether a political ally or an opposition, a brand new service vehicle and P5 million each for their development funds, a sort of “pork barrel” for their respective district. He gave each barangay P5 million to address their basic needs. He did not strip barangay captains of their City Hall issued vehicles and ambulances, unlike what his predecessor did. Even before he assumed office after winning in the 2016 elections, Osmeña recalled all the City Hall issued vehicles from Team Rama barangay captains. He deprived them of projects, while his BOPK allies were provided everything. Nagpuasa ang mga Team Rama barangay captains samtang buhong ang iyang kaalyado sa BOPK.

But is Labella true to his promise? Just recently, I have been receiving complaints from the barangays that the City Hall’s counterpart honorarium for barangay health workers (BHWs) and barangay tanods, especially from those barangays whose village chiefs are with BOPK, have been withheld by some people in charge of the processing despite a release order from the mayor.

BHWs in these barangays claimed that they have complied with the requirements set by City Hall, but when they followed it up, they were given a runaround by the persons in charge. Those who complained are from Barangays Tejero, Sawang Calero and Inayawan. Sawang Calero Barangay Captain Sergio Ocaña even interacted in my radio program over dySS and poured his sentiments and frustrations against City Hall. They pinpointed a certain Althea Lim, former Poblacion Pardo barangay captain, as the liaison officer who gave them a runaround.

Lim would tell them that their papers were under process in the mayor’s office for signature. But when they inquired from the mayor’s office, the mayor’s staff would tell them that they did not receive any endorsement from Lim. There are barangay-hired BHWs who received honorarium from the barangay and a counterpart honorarium from City Hall. There are also BHWs who are directly hired by City Hall and assigned to various barangays without giving due courtesy and coordination with the barangay officials. City Hall-hired BHWs have been receiving their allowances regularly, but those hired by the barangays have not been paid for almost six months now.

Is this the “inclusive government” that Mayor Labella promised? Who is the Mayor, those people around him like Althea Lim or Labella? Don’t tell me that Labella cannot order those in charge of the processing to immediately release the BHWs honoraria for those barangays that have complied with the requirements? The chief executive should be decisive on this matter because this will affect his leadership. Is the “inclusive government” that Labella keeps on harping only for show or is he engaged in double-talk?

I know Mayor Labella personally, even long before he became a politician. He is very sincere and a dedicated public servant. But if he has been swallowed by the system, it’s not good. It will reflect on his personal character and his leadership. He’d be no different from other politicians we cannot trust. Hey, mayor, if there are some people surrounding you who are out to sabotage your administration, you fire them all. Kana ra sila maoy makaguba sa imong liderato ug imahen.