City Council reorganization looms
Fred Languido, Kristine Quintas (The Freeman) - August 21, 2014 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - After losing dominion over the Cebu City Council following the bolting of four city councilors from the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan to form an independent bloc, the remaining members of the group may soon lose the chairmanships of major committees they are currently holding.

City Councilor Gerardo Carillo said he does not discount the possibility of moving for the reorganization of the committee memberships now that the City Council does not anymore have a clear majority.

He, however, said he still has to discuss such plan with his colleagues in the new independent bloc as well as with members of Team Rama.

City Councilors  Carillo, Noel Eleuterio Wenceslao, Roberto Cabarrubias,  and Richard “Richie” Osmeña, who used to be with BOPK, have decided to create an independent bloc to be “free from political pressure” after they voted to give Mayor Michael Rama authority to sell portions of the South Road Properties.

“BOPK is still a majority because they still have the numbers. But, we are not discounting any possibilities,” Carillo told reporters yesterday.

He said this because while the numbers of BOPK members has been reduced, they are still the most numerous with eight compared to Team Rama’s five and the “independent” bloc with four. 

Team Rama and the independent bloc together, however, could very well be the new majority.

After leaving BOPK, Carillo said they discussed the city’s P3.2-billion SRP loan and would later discuss the proposal to increase real property taxes.

“We will think as one, vote as one, and plan as one from now on. We remain independent. We will just focus on how to implement the programs of the city,” he said, referring to him, Wenceslao, Cabarrubias, and Richie.

Meanwhile, City Councilor Margarita “Margot” Osmeña is already anticipating the move to strip them of their committee chairmanships following what their former allies did.

“Am I still a majority floor leader? As of now, apparently I still am. I don’t know about next week,” Margot said, adding that they were not surprised by the move and can “live with it.”

She is the wife of Rama’s political nemesis, former congressman Tomas Osmeña, whom Rama defeated in the elections last year.

“I’m not surprised, he’s (Tomas) not shocked either. Everybody is independent and there are realities to be met and to be faced. They said they are going to be independent and so be it. I would like to believe it,” she said.

“I’m not shocked. Am I bothered? Of course you get bothered but of course it’s a reality that you face and you just move on. It’s not something I spend sleepless nights about, really. There’s life outside the session hall. I can live with it,” Margot added, pointing out that they are open to hear the reasons and sentiments of their colleagues.

In a Facebook post via DYLA, former congressman Osmeña said he already anticipated this to happen after Atty. Reymelio Delute filed an administrative complaint against members of the council and Rama before the Office of the President over the P20,000 calamity assistance the city approved for all City Hall workers and officials.

“These councilors are upset that I didn’t try to stop Atty. Delute from filing his case against Mike Rama and members of the city council for fabricating themselves as calamity victims in order to justify taking 20,000 pesos each from the city’s already bankrupt funds,” Tomas said.

“I told them that I would not try to convince Atty. Delute to remove them as defendants because that was against the public interest. If they are innocent, then they should not be afraid of explaining themselves to the court and especially to you, the public,” he added.

For her part, City Councilor Lea Japson said the move was not a big deal for them as they respect their colleagues’ decision.

Wenceslao said he has no regrets leaving BOPK, while Richie refused to be interviewed when sought for comments.  Cabarrubias is still out of the country and would be coming back this Sunday yet.

In a separate interview, Rama said he felt elated with the four councilors’ decision to prioritize public welfare over politics.

“We gave them the liberty. That’s there own move. Democracy is very much alive. You can’t always be conforming but you must also be arguing and quarreling (against). We must encourage people in the council to show interest to people’s welfare and not just…in supporting their interests,” he said.

Rama further said the four councilors are welcome to join Team Rama.

“Let’s just be focus on what will be good for the city. But, if there are two, three, or four (councilors interested to join Team Rama), as long as they will stand for what is the desire of the city…they are all welcome,” he said.

Carillo, though, was short but direct with his answer when told of the offer.

“We are not joining Team Rama,” he said.—(FREEMAN)

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