PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has designated Environment Secretary and former Armed Forces chief Roy Cimatu as his point man in battling the Covid-19 pandemic in Central Visayas, notably Cebu City where the coronavirus has continued to spread despite the imposed lockdowns. Duterte being Duterte, the President spiced his presscon the other night (June 22, 2020) by calling Cebuanos intrinsically hardheaded.
Political opponents of the administration of Mayor Edgardo Labella, especially those who were displaced by his win in 2019, are naturally ecstatic over this development because it helps in their current campaign to paint the Labella administration as incompetent and corrupt. Others resent the sending of a former military man to Cebu instead of a health expert.
I see this differently, of course. I noted before that the main problem of the Labella administration is information dissemination. There were many steps by the Labella administration to curb the pandemic that either went under the radar or whose import were not disseminated and explained well to the constituents. Transparency is also a problem, making it easy for political opponents to muddle or twist data.
But I see now that information dissemination is not the only problem. The other problem is organizational. How often, say, did Labella solicit the suggestions of barangay officials on how to prevent the spread of the virus? Those barangay officials are the ones in the frontlines, thus their suggestions are precious. And this is important: How regularly were the consultations done and how expansive?
Then you have this running complaint by Vice Mayor Michael Rama about Labella’s partymates in the City Council not being consulted by the mayor on his moves. I initially thought this was Rama trying to stay politically relevant but it now sounds more to me like another organizational lapse. Like, how often do the leaders of the administration party meet to discuss important matters, like how the Covid-19 pandemic is being waged by the City?
Which brings me to the mayor’s campaign slogan in 2019: “Uban ta sa kausaban.” It is an invitation to a kind of leadership that is collective rather than unitary. More than that, it is a recognition that the mayor cannot do things on his own and needs the help of the collective. In battling the Covid-19 pandemic, the views of other political leaders can’t be less important than one’s own.
That is why I welcome the entry of Cimatu to shake things up in the city and mainly to pinpoint the lapses not only in battling the virus but more so in administration and management style, which seems to me like Cimatu is more experienced in when compared with the leaders here, including Mayor Labella.
That is why the coming of Cimatu should be welcomed and the decision of the President to send him here considered as a way to help instead of being considered a slap or an insult. I mean, I see it as a welcome development.
So again, welcome, General.