CEBU CITY Councilor Joel Garganera, who has been sporting the brand of the movie character Ang Panday, is deputy implementer in the city for the regional IATF. He is a legislator who is a member of the administration party, Partido Barug, which now dominates City Hall.
Atty. Floro Casas Jr., city administrator, is in effect the mayor’s operations manager, chief of staff, right-hand man.
Days earlier, after Councilor Joel was named to the Visayas IATF, I wrote that things were perking up for Cebu City. Garganera, I said, would set up the needed liaison on Covid matters between the mayor’s team and the Visayas inter-agency task force. Apparently I spoke too soon.
Trading sharp comments
Initial development in the “granular” lockdown project is dispiriting. Saturday afternoon, July 25, Garganera was publicly trading sharp comments with Mayor Edgardo Labella’s city administrator. And it happened just hours after a press briefing where a multi-agency group — with the mayor, Garganera and other big officials involved in the anti-Covid campaign attending — announced and explained “granular” lockdown.
Garganera — in a SunStar breaking news bulletin, complete with a lift-out quote — called “premature” the mayor’s Facebook posting of his executive order (85) on the segmented lockdowns.
Kons Joel said (1) the information should’ve been given first to the people in the affected areas and (2) the “intervention measures” should’ve been conducted before any publicity was made.
It violated an agreement among the offices and agencies concerned, he said.
Attorney Casas shot back with this post in Cebuano-Bisaya: “Please explain why Mayor Edgar Labella cannot post on his FB page an executive order that was issued also by Mayor Edgar Labella. Like, the mayor still had to ask clearance before he can post his EO? From whom? So you can make an announcement, unofficial as it is, and yet the mayor cannot?”
The exchange quickly produced sparks that Cebu City Hall watchers unavoidably noticed. Casas and Garganera represent two agencies that need to work together, or to be seen to work together.
Here’s Garganera questioning the mayor’s act of FB posting. And there’s Casas telling off the councilor that the mayor needed no permission from anyone to post anything on social media.
What is questioned
Which promptly tells us simple folk in the city that the two officials are not even on the same page of the disagreement. They’re quarreling over authority of the mayor to post when what is questioned is the timing of the announcement and its having disrespected an agreement among the anti-Covid agencies.
Apparently, the mayor slipped — by the “premature” release of his EO. The person in charge of his FB page took down the two-page document just before Saturday’s presser, indicating they must have realized the mistake and were correcting it. But of course other people had already saved or spread the information.
The incident tells the public something more than the bureaucratic snafu: These guys don’t talk with one another as often as needed. If they had, they could’ve kept the problem to themselves until they’d come up with “damage control.”
Item one: Garganera could’ve put off his sharp censure. The mayor’s office erred in releasing it. Kons Joel could’ve chosen not to trumpet the error.
Item two: Since Ang Panday did publicize it, Attorney Casas could’ve decided not to make the pointed reply. They’re on the same team, Covid-19 or otherwise. Instead, they provided ammunition for rival party BOPK’s cannon.
Initial confusion over which areas to conduct surgical lockdown was caused by the release of a list of 21 barangays.
The messaging was that the list was for the “granular thing.”
Lockdowns were supposed to be limited, segmented, surgical — confined to the household, compound, street block, sitio, or purok.
Yet the 21-barangay list covered pretty much the urban part or “poblacion” of the city. Could they police the area and feed so many people during the lockdown period? Talk of premature disclosure of a plan still to be fleshed out and put in place.
Garganera had to explain Friday that there would be no segmented lockdowns yet. But confusion heightened the next day, at the multi-agency meeting, when an IATF official said the granular lockdowns would cover 26 places in Cebu City.
That would be, in people’s minds, the first 21 barangays that were first announced plus the five places in Labella’s EO. The last word, as of this writing, is that Garganera would release the lockdown list Sunday, July 26.
Who will need to approve that list? Won’t that require another executive order or amendment to the first order? And may the mayor post it this time?