It’s an undercurrent that cannot be escaped in a highly polarized setup. When two political forces are trying to cancel each other out in a quest for power, the truth is, more often than not, one of the casualties. And in times of crisis, public interest, too.
Why is the effort to minimize the spread of the coronavirus more contentious in Cebu City than in other places? Because we have in place an administration that was still learning the ropes, sort of, as far as governance is concerned when the Covid-19 pandemic broke out and a political opposition that has mastered the art of muddling the efforts of its political opponent to make itself and its previous rule look good.
I remember that time when Michael Rama — who served for a long time as vice mayor under then mayor Tomas Osmeña — became mayor himself and eventually cut his alliance with Osmeña. We saw what it was like governing when you have Osmeña as the political opposition: it was difficult. Because Osmeña still wielded influence with Malacañang, even the mere act of Rama recommending his own treasurer became difficult.
The template that the political opposition is using against Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella is basically the same as the one used against Rama. Muddle his governance and highlight every failing, then propagate the myth that the former mayor is a better administrator. To be fair, Labella and his administration are themselves providing the ammunition that the political opposition can use against them.
That every mistake the Labella administration makes in handling the Covid-19 pandemic is being highlighted by the political opposition shows the tragedy that is the kind of politics we have in the country. Of course, everything begins with the failings of the Labella administration, I agree. But the seeming glee that the political opposition exhibited every time is what is sad. That contradicts the admonition for the people to be united when crisis hits.
I won’t go as far as saying that the political opposition is deliberately undermining the administration’s efforts because there is no evidence on that one but we have reason to suspect it is relishing the thought of the Labella administration failing in this regard to gain advantage in the 2022 polls. Which is unfortunate because it is the people who will be disadvantaged by such an attitude if possessed by leaders.
I am not saying the Labella’s administration doesn’t have problems, too. This is a cause and effect thing. That the number of Covid-19 infections have risen in the city so much so that stringent protocols were reimposed could only mean lapses in the effort and creativity in battling the coronavirus. How major are the lapses is what is debatable, though. It does not mean the effort should not be improved.
The first step in solving a problem is to recognize that the problem exists. Many of my well-meaning friends say the Labella administration did commit some lapses in the battle against the coronavirus. Those lapses need to be recognized first.