Will the Osmeña-Labella debate ever happen?
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Valeriano Avila (The Freeman) - May 7, 2019 - 12:00am

Yesterday morning I was planning to attend the scheduled debate between Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña and Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella as this is already the final week of campaigning ahead of the midterm elections. Then at the last minute on Sunday, I got a text that the debate has been postponed for the nth time. Come on! Are we really going to have a debate between the present mayor of Cebu City and the coming contender to the throne?

Here are the reasons why I am interested in the debate. First, Mayor Tomas Osmeña would never accept any challenges to a debate simply because he believes that if one is ahead in the political race, it would be foolhardy to join a debate and end up faltering, which would make you lose some points. Second, Mayor Osmeña has never taken up Law, hence debating with a lawyer is a big disadvantage for him. But still, I’m hoping that the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Cebu Chapter will be able to convince the two candidates to have a debate for the sake of the undecided voters.

* * *

Since, the debate failed to materialize yesterday morning, it gave me a little time to get my National Bureau of Investigation clearance so I could renew my firearm licenses. Frankly speaking, I haven’t gotten an NBI clearance for more than two years now and it was surprising to note that the process is already computerized and went very smoothly, especially since I’m already a senior citizen.

Forty years ago, Atty. Salvador Mason was head of the NBI and we were golf buddies. Also my brother, architect Bing Avila, married the late Chito de Leon, the daughter of then NBI director Oscar de Leon. Both of them already passed into eternal life. Anyway, being in the NBI office, I decided to pay a short visit to the new NBI Director Atty. Tomas C. Enrile, a very amiable fellow, and we talked a lot about how the NBI has already modernized.

We also talked about the case of Christine Lee Silawan who was murdered and flayed in Lapu-Lapu City, and I told him I supported the stand of the NBI in their forensic evidence pointing to her ex-boyfriend as the main suspect, even if someone already claimed responsibility for the murder. Enrile bewailed the present reality in Cebu that we just have so many killings, which is true. It was great talking to the top man in charge of the NBI. Nice meeting you, sir!

* * *

The latest scandal to hit Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña was when he was photographed playing poker. Now I just learned that a certain Conrado Romano filed a case against the mayor for violations of ethical standards for government officials. Apparently, the photo was taken last January in the House of Jacks in Ralph’s Wines and Spirits, owned by Ralph, the brother of my dear friend, Bobby Joseph. I also know that their wine store has not been used for any gambling activities, so perhaps this place was beside Ralph’s Wines and Spirits.

Now, whether this place has been tagged by the police for illegal gambling I really don’t know. For sure, by just looking at the table, it looked like a poker table in gambling joints. I submit that I play old-style poker, which is far different from the Texas hold ‘em poker games that is played in casinos. Many times in the past, Mayor Osmeña would play with my group, after all this type of poker game is no different from the mahjong games that our mothers used to play. Now whether there is a prohibition for government employees to play poker is something I really don’t know. In my book, Mayor Osmeña should not be stopped because he was playing poker. God knows that the mayor has far more serious problems to face in running Cebu City than being involved in a poker game.

* * *

That the Department of Tourism announced a 7.6% increase in the arrival of foreign tourists to the Philippines for the first quarter this year is proof that one of the major contributions to this increased arrival is the Sinulog Festival. There is no doubt that the Sinulog Festival has been recognized as of the most famous festivals in Asia that brings in a lot of tourists.

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