The first shot

OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide -

The battle line has finally been drawn. The filing of a whole bunch of cases by some sectors of our society, reportedly with the backing of former city administrator Francisco Fernandez, against His Honor, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, made the formal declaration of hostilities between the honorable Tomas R. Osmeña, Congressman of Cebu City South District, and the city mayor, unnecessary. To me, the subsequent efforts to downplay this subterfuge made by the vice mayor were misleading attempts to cushion the impact of this breakup or plainly wishful thinking.

 Mr. Fernandez would not have done what was reported were he not acting upon the orders of the former mayor. In short, he was only the executioner with the decision coming from somewhere else. But of course, he was chosen to wield the ax because he had a good cover. Informal settlers, as he did eventually crow, also are entitled to the protection of the law and Mr. Fernandez, if news accounts were accurate, cited the UDHA, a statute passed in the early years of the administration of the late Pres. Corazon Aquino, as his legal sanctuary. Unfortunately, that cover ironically gave some weight and credence to my earlier suspicions of his less noble considerations. 

 Mr. Fernandez is reputedly the head of an NGO called Pagtambayayong. The Pagtambayayong business, if I may be allowed to call it as such, is helping the homeless, (well some obviously are not really that homeless), find place to call their own. On site lot acquisition and relocation were its basic menu. For the few uninitiated, “on site” settlement referred to those settlers who found chances to band themselves together to work against the owner of the land they occupied. They would offer to pay for the land to an owner who would rather accept some terms just to rid themselves of a perceived oppression. Pagtambayayong, I heard, brokered such arrangements.

 We do understand the term relocation. There have been a number of instances when the city acquired parcels of residential land for resale, under long installment provisions, to beneficiaries. Pit-os, Budla-an, Lahug, Kalunasan are among such projects. Again, if reports are not absolutely incorrect, Pagtambayayong served both as a conduit of the relocation transactions and the developer of the identified relocation sites. For these two sets of situations, Mr. Fernandez could not afford to disobey an order.

 The filing of the cases came as an apparent consequence of the vigorous attempt of the incumbent mayor to clear our rivers, Mahiga creek being the case in point, of nuisance. That is one fact. But, let us not overlook another fact. Few weeks earlier, the former mayor announced that he would not support the sitting mayor in the 2013 elections. He would either field his wife or the vice mayor. There must be a connection between these two.

 So, we can safely conclude that the initial political salvo emanated from the camp of the former mayor, Rep. Osmeña, fired the first cannon. We did not know how Mayor Rama would react. Many among us thought that, notwithstanding his legal training as a decided advantage, he would grope around aimlessly. Well, it seemed to me that the political underling only foul-baited his grizzled mentor.

 When Mayor Rama waved a 2008 order, purportedly signed by his predecessor, as his basis for the demolition, he, convinced me that it was his former benefactor who actually ordered the demolition of the houses of these informal settlers. This conclusion went without saying that the Mahiga settlers may just be victims of double talk and the incumbent chief executive is slowly showing the card he possesses.

More importantly, Rep. Osmeña’s first salvo operates as a marching order to the councilors. I predict that he is meaning to say this early, that the honorable members of the sanggunian should disembowel (pardon the word) the sitting mayor. Nothing that enhances the image of the mayor must come forth with the acquiescence of the council.Whether or not they follow the unwritten directive of their political demigod is worth our careful watch. Ato ning atngan!











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