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BOPK still rules

CEBU, Philippines - Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan can now heave a sigh of relief after the group retained the majority after the Cebu City Council session yesterday.

Except for City Councilor Roberto Cabarrubias, the other members of the so-called “Independent bloc,” or those who left BOPK, ended up as the losers as all three were not given even committee memberships.

In a close vote of 9-8, with Cabarrubias swaying the number in favor of BOPK, City Council Committee chairmanships is again dominated by BOPK after yesterday’s reorganization.

City Councilors Gerardo Carillo (Social Services and Traffic Management), Richard Osmeña (Public Order and Safety) and Noel Eleuterio Wenceslao (Education, Science and Technology and Urban Planning and Development) were all shut out from committee chairmanships by the BOPK city councilors.

The council approved the revamp proposed by City Councilor Eugenio Gabuya Jr., with City Councilors Nestor Archival Sr. (presiding officer pro tempore) Margarita “Margot” Osmeña (majority floor leader) Lea Ouano-Japson (first district assistant majority floor leader), Roberto Cabarrubias (second district assistant majority floor leader), Mary Ann Delos Santos (minority floor leader), and David Tumulak (assistant minority floor leader) as the new set of officers.

Margot kept the committee on budget and finance leadership; so did City Councilors Lea Japson (women and family affairs), Alvin Dizon (youth and sports development; housing), Gabuya (public services), Sisinio Andales (laws, ordinances, public accountability and good governance; labor, employment, manpower development and placement), Alvin Arcilla (markets; agriculture and rural development), Cabarrubias (infrastructure; information and communication technology), Nestor Archival Sr. (energy, transportation, communication and other utilities) Nida Cabrera (parks, playground, wildlife, ecology and environment; and cooperative and livelihood).

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Team Rama allies City Councilors Philip Zafra (barangay affairs), James Anthony Cuenco (tourism, local and international relations, arts and culture) were also allowed to keep their committee chairmanships, while City Councilors Mary Ann delos Santos (health, hospital, services and sanitation), and Hanz Nendell Abella (trade, commerce and entrepreneurship) were given committee chairmanships.

Carillo, on the other hand, lost his social services committee chairmanship, which went to Japson, and of traffic management, which was given to Cabarrubias; Wenceslao, the education, science and technology committee that is now with Dizon, and the urban planning and development committee that is now with Arcilla; while Richie lost his games, amusement and sports committee chairmanship, which went to Gabuya, and the public order and safety committee chairmanship, which was given to Archival.

Gabuya said what happened was the result of the September 3 and October 1 attempts for reorganization, which was the brainchild by the joint forces of the Independent bloc and of Team Rama.

Prior to Gabuya presenting his proposal, Zapra delivered a privilege speech and appealed that as “representatives of the people” they are expected to “stand for what is good for them.”

“We are neither rubber stamp nor robots operated by remote control. However, we are ourselves, independent in mind and focused on our desire to give our best for the best of all. At the end of the day, we are accountable not on party posturing and platform alone, but on our stand, views and commitment on every issue and concern under scrutiny in this council,” he said.

Abella, however, moved for adjournment.  Wenceslao, seconded the motion, prompting Labella to pass it by banging the gavel.  Andales, however, vehemently objected over what happened, and was arguing his case with the other BOPK councilors while Wenceslao, Abella, Cuenco, Tumulak, and Zapra already exited the session hall.

Labella, confronted by the BOPK councilors, acceded to the objections and started another session.

“I just followed the rules of parliamentary procedure. There was a motion so I acted on it and it’s not debatable. However, there was also an appeal of the ruling, to which I yielded,” Labella said, in explaining what he did, which paved the way for BOPK councilors to reorganize the committees according to their terms.

Upon learning of the outcome, former Cebu City south district lawmaker Tomas R. Osmeña said he was very happy that allies still remain as the majority at the City Council.

“Simple kaayo ang mensahe, nga si (The simple lesson to be learned is that) Councilor Bob Cabarrubias is not for sale. That’s the lesson that Team Rama has to learn and I am very proud of the City Council, I’m very proud of Bob and I think that it is a good way of showing that BOPK has undergone a cleansing process. Ang tanang mga badlongon wala na diha, tua na sila sa pikas (All the rascals are now with the other camp),” a laughing Osmeña told The FREEMAN.

Mayor Michael Rama, on the other hand, said that while Team Rama failed to change the leadership in major City Council committees, his group has gained three more allies, referring to Richie, Wenceslao, and Carillo.

Rama took the defeat in stride, saying it was “normal” scenario which can happen anywhere.

“That is what democracy is all about. Bisan wala pa makuha ang majority always remember the positive side,” he said.

“Let’s move on and accept it. You can still function, peruse, deliberate whatever resolution presented even if you don’t have committees. It makes no difference,” Labella, on the other hand, said to console Wenceslao, Richie, and Carillo.

Sought for his comment over what happened, Wenceslao was gracious in defeat.

“I bow down to the decision of the majority; but it does not mean I will not participate in the discussion and perusal of our resolutions and ordinances. I will still perform my job as an elected official,” he said. — /RHM (FREEMAN)

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