A clearly political angle to this legal issue

OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide -

When the 2010 election was still approaching, then Cebu City Vice Mayor, now the honorable Mayor Michael Rama, became the object of mixed political butts. Our city’s independent thinkers and coffee-shop political observers, true to their professed non-aligned stance, conceded that the vice mayor was immensely popular. But, they also seemed to fuel all doubts of his leadership qualities. The opposition was, understandably, more cruel. They made fun of the vice mayor each time he turned his statement around when hearing that his boss took a different position. In many plausibly admissible occasions, they called him a wimp.

What was perceptible was that Hon. Rama, the then vice mayor, did not even attempt to parry those charges. His silence led many to speculate on a number of reasons. The more unfriendly of such observations was that he was more afraid of any adverse reactions of his benefactor should he try to show his independence. True enough, he just campaigned vigorously. That he was incapable of asserting what might even be right against the wishes of his political godfather circulated without apparent contradiction. In few occasions though, when the vitriolic attacks that focused on his perceived canine devotion to the then sitting mayor and now the honorable congressman of Cebu City south district, became unbearable, he would only let out a brief “let’s see”.

Those who wanted the then vice mayor to speak his mind out did not really intend him to fight the mayor. After all, their respective functions are so very well delineated in the Local Government Code such that if they offer different postures in the formulation of policies, the commonality of the people’s well being as their objective would always lead them to a reasonable compromise. Indeed, we only hoped then that every time it was in order to raise a discordant voice, he would be unafraid to do so.

Well, that time may have come, I believe. The issue that has brought forth this situation is the demolition of the structures that were illegally built along the Mahiga creek. Unfortunately, it is my perception that this subject is taking too much political consideration rather than common weal.

There is no doubt that it is illegal for people to usurp the banks of waterways. That is a legal theory founded on good reason. Not even the claim that the usurpers are poor and they have no other place to build their homes on can justify their act. Poverty, assuming it to be true in this case, is, in any case, no excuse to violate our laws.

But, Mr. Francisco Fernandez is not as hesitant to air a discordant voice as then vice mayor Rama was. Without making it clear that he is only implementing a marching, albeit verbal, order of the honorable Congressman Tomas Osmeña, Mr. Fernandez wants us to consider a contradictory view. He has on his side the Hon. Alvin Dizon. They are not hesitant in their claim that the demolition of these illegal structures cannot be done unless these builders of illegal structures are relocated and given financial assistance. To them, it is not rewarding the violators of law because they are poor for which reason they are entitled to protection of the laws! Is it?

Let us try to visit our jails and look, in particular, for those inmates who are accused of theft. Most of them are poor. Their poverty is one main reason why they cannot even afford to post bails for their temporary liberty. If we interview them to find out why, in the first place, they have stolen other’s properties, their answer always points to their poverty. That they have no food on their table or that they have no money to pay for the hospitalization of a family member will always tug our hearts, but stealing is still illegal.

They are not dissimilarly situated. The builder of a house along any river bank knows that what he is doing is against the law. Without doubt, the thief, in taking away the personal belonging of another person, knows also that stealing is against the law.

I am sure, Mr. Fernandez, and company does not share this analogy. They will refuse to acknowledge that construction on the river banks is as prohibited as stealing. Better still, they will claim that in opposing the move of the mayor, they are not really the mayor’s opponents. Rather, they are only taking a different stand. And for this reason, they will continue to rile Mayor Rama. Aha, if the sitting mayor were only of the same mind when he was still working in the shadows of then Mayor Osmeña, it would be a lot easier for us to rally around him as he make clear his position on what is legal.












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