Seares: What Mayor Labella did not tell us last January: ‘I almost died’… What Dondon dunks in now: not basketballs

·3 min read

Edgar to return ‘better, stronger’

WAY back last January, Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella took a two-day leave of absence after he was taken to the hospital where his doctor found an ear infection and advised him to rest. At the time, he debunked as “fake news” the rumor, “peddled by enemies in politics,” that he went into a coma.

Not much less than that was what he admitted in a “statement on health” released Tuesday, June 8, past 11 a.m. In announcing a three-week leave of absence, Labella talked about his experience in January: “While I was at the hospital, and after thorough tests, I was told that I had sepsis or blood infection. I almost died.”

REST IN INSTALLMENTS. With the mayor’s leave, starting Wednesday, June 9, Vice Michael Rama will be acting mayor.

Given his record of leaves, one sees that the mayor has been observing in installments the rest ordered by his doctors. Applied to vaccines, the word used by his vice mayor is “tagi-tagi,” which may also describe Labella’s periods of rest.

The known illnesses of the mayor during his term started with the gall bladder surgery that he underwent on September 3, 2020, for which he went on leave until September 7.

Early this year, he reported an ear infection. Mayor Labella checked into a hospital January 17 for treatment, going on leave until January 22, which was later extended to January 25. He then re-assumed as mayor but worked for 42 days from his home in Bacayan, reporting back to City Hall on March 9.

On a May 29-30 weekend, the mayor disclosed last May 31, he was admitted to the hospital for pneumonia. He had fever and “slight pneumonia,” he said then, but made no reference to sepsis and his near-death experience of last January. He was taking a three-day leave, he said. Then the June 8 announcement and the more candid details. Another leave, longer this time: three weeks.

INFECTIONS IN BODY.Mayor Labella Tuesday said he was strongly advised back in January to take “a couple of months off work in order to rest and fully recuperate.” But he did not, he said, because of the second surge of Covid-19. He had many things to do, “so my health momentarily took a back seat.”

The pandemic in Cebu City is now “manageable,” so Mayor Labella is “finally heeding the advice” of his doctors.

In the next three weeks, he said, will undergo “a medical workup to make sure there are no more infections” in his body. But he will continue to “monitor” the city and he will come back “better and stronger, “ he said.

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Dondon as presiding officer

Donaldo “Dondon” Hontiveros topped the 2019 elections for Cebu City councilors, getting 4,592 more votes than second-placer David Tumulak did (161,347 against 156,755). Both are from the south district. The north’s topnotchers – Nestor Archival and Prisca Nina Mabatid got less: 124,466 and 113,908, respectively.

So in the rank of succession, Hontiveros, the number 1 councilor, assumes as vice mayor when the vice mayor, Michael Rama, moves up as mayor, acting or not.

Eveytime the mayor takes a leave and VM Rama assumes as acting mayor, Councilor Dondon also takes over as presiding officer of the Sanggunian.

Last June 2 at the City Council’s regular session, he did so again, dunking in not basketballs -- as he did so when he was a 6’2” point guard for San Miguel back in 2017 and 2018 in the PBA – but motions thrown at him by councilors, often in “omnibus manner” and dispatched by him in rapid-fire, no-pause-between-words fashion (“moved, seconded, discussion, objection, approved”).

Dondon, who turned 44 last June 1, may be one of the youngest presiding officers of city legislatures across the country.