The mediator

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

THE opposition-dominated Cebu City Council once again showed they can and will work with the administration of Mayor Michael Rama for a worthy cause. Meeting in special session last Friday, they approved the mayor’s request to budget P300 million for the rebuilding of the Cebu City Medical Center.

It was also in a special session, held under one of the trees at the Plaza Sugbo, that the council voted to declare a state of calamity in the city last year. The resolution allowed the mayor to dip into the City’s calamity funds for the victims of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that wrecked, among others, the council’s session hall.

In both cases, the council members came on short notice. While the individual councilors should be praised for responding to a call of duty, credit should be given their presiding officer, Vice Mayor Edgar Labella and his nonconfrontational nature. Even if he’s allied with Rama, Edgar treats all his colleagues in the city legislature evenly and with respect.


They, in turn, trust him.

Last week, Edgar personally called all the city councilors, who were in town, to request them to attend Friday’s session.

Twelve showed up; the rest had previous commitments they could not break.
At the start of Rama’s second term, I wrote here that Labella would play a key role in bridging the mayor with the council. Edgar may not have succeeded in making the mayor and the majority councilors chummy with one another but he made it possible for one to understand the other.

Nobody could have done a better job.


Like Edgar, the vice mayor of nearby Talisay City is also unassuming. But I wonder if Romeo Villarante could or would do for JVR what Edgar is doing for Mike.

Villarante and JVR won under the same party. As in Cebu City, the Talisay
City Council is controlled by their political opponents. But unlike in Cebu City, the council was generally supportive of the mayor.

Not anymore. Villarante has broken ties with JVR through a scathing privilege speech last week. The mayor wept but not so much about the loss of the friendship of his vice mayor as for his concern for his city administrator son, whom he said, has been unjustly pilloried.

Without doubt, JVR cares about his family and it’s not bad. But it is not nice, to say the least, to hear him say that the reason he surrounded himself with relatives is because he can trust no one else.

The statement is insulting to the people of Talisay.

JVR should listen to people other than those of his own blood. Lately, his decisions have been flawed. His stand on the Talisay City College presidency conflict is a prime example. Somebody should tell him that he may be the mayor but the college’s board of trustees is a collegial body where the majority rules.


The University of Cebu College of Law produced another bar topnotcher, its third in recent years, if I am not mistaken.

In keeping with university tradition, UC owner, lawyer Gus Go, gave the achieving alumnus a brand-new car. But this time, Gus went even farther: he gave his law dean a much more expensive car.

The more interesting part, however, is that the dean begged off, asking that the gift be replaced with cash so he could share it with the other faculty members of the college. The gesture is a rarity in this age of so much selfishness but why am I not surprised?

Dean Baldomero Estenzo has always been a cut above the rest. And I
am proud that he is my friend.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 23, 2014.


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