Seares: Markets chief Raquel Arce apologizes to Councilor Archival multiple times for her ‘harsh’ words. P1.2B extra budget ‘on bullet train’; move to delay City Council special session foiled.

·3 min read

TO DELAY SESSION OR NOT. A special session of the Cebu City Council called by Mayor Mike Rama Friday, June 24 approved to refer to the committee on finance supplemental budget #2 for P1.2 billion. That sailed through quickly but the question whether the special session would be improper if not illegal -- because it allegedly violated the house rule on 24-hour notice -- dragged them into a long debate.

Minority Floorleader Nestor Archival Sr. said they should follow the house rule, the budget would take time and they better give the succeeding Sanggunian (whose term begins on June 30) the right to act on it. Majority Floorleader Raymond Alvin Garcia said it’s merely a referral to the committee, budget hearing will be held Monday, June 27 and the measure reported out and may pass Wednesday, June 29, its last session. Looks like the P1.2 billion extra budget – on top of the P1.6 billion supplemental budget #1 approved last March – is on a bullet train, commented a broadcaster.

Archival’s motion to reschedule the session to next Monday was doomed from the time the majority indicated intent to push it, whatever the obstacle – an edge that becomes bigger in the coming City Council. Only two voted for the motion: proponent Archival and fellow Bando Osmeña–Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) and departing Councilor Eugenio Gabuya Jr.

ARCE’S SWEET SMILE. “Berdugo” is how Raquel Bohol-Arce says she’s seen by vendors, illegal settlers and others whom her Probe team goes after. Last June 16 Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama announced the assignment of Arce to head the Disaster Office. Whew, a relief, she said, a chance for her to shed off the image of executioner or demolisher.

Well, she could be starting the shift from feisty to submissive. Summoned by the City Council, on behest of Minority Floorleader Nestor Archival Sr., to its session Wednesday, June 22, Arce was asked to explain her accusations against Archival of “notorious obstruction” and politicking (“namolitika”).

She apologized multiple times (I stopped counting after her fourth), admitting they were “harsh.” Archival accepted the apologies but not before he gave her a tutorial on leading the city markets division, the controversial Megawide project, and his, ah, apolitical motive in helping Carbon Market vendors and settlers affected by the project.

Raquel was being sweet: who can reject the apology of someone with such a sweet smile, or similar language from the councilor. But then she wasn’t dealing with vendors and settlers. She was appearing before the Sanggunian, in the lions’ den where one of the pack leaders she annoyed if not angered after she accused him of politicking and being a “notorious” obstructionist.

MULTI-TASKED CHIEF. Raquel Arce concurrently holds the positions of chief of Probe, assistant department head of City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (CDRRMO) and manager of the city markets division. Starting July 1, she’ll move to the Disaster Office even as she keeps the markets division and Probe, at least for now.

That speaks well of Arce: she must be an extraordinary administrator, a “fearless implementor.” She doesn’t eat death threats for breakfast but she said she already got four.

Mayor Mike displays enormous trust in one person but that may reflect poorly on his capacity to draw the city’s best and brightest, a skill that Tomas Osmena, ex-mentor and current arch-rival, hasn’t failed to publicize.

SPOKESPERSONS. Erik Espina is being tapped by Mayor Rama as his press secretary. At first, it was “communication secretary of sort,” like Presidential Communications Group’s (PCOO) Martina Andanar.

That means Erik will be the mayor’s “mouthpiece” while Cerwin Eviota, whose efficient messaging helped Mike got elected, will stay as public information officer. What’s the dif? Erik speaks solely for the mayor while Cerwin speaks about things that will make the mayor look good.

And, if anyone remembers, what about Karla Henry, a 2008 beauty titlist, the spokesperson the mayor appointed last March 7?

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