Should we have a city government run by all lawyers?
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B Jimenez (The Freeman) - June 26, 2019 - 12:00am

Is the Cebu City government going to be run by an all-lawyer team in the next three years? I’m not casting aspersion, just asking. Is this the best team for the city?

Are all the other dimensions in city governance going to be considered, outside the realm of legalese? My unsolicited advice is to caution the incoming administration from such an extreme option. Not even President Duterte has ever embarked on an exclusive all-lawyer team in his Cabinet. He trusts generals more than lawyers because they are men and women of action.

Not even a Bar topnotcher, President Ferdinand Marcos, appointed an all-lawyer Cabinet. He brought in economists like Cesar Virata, technocrats like Ronnie Velasco, diplomats like Carlos P. Romulo, finance wizards like Jimmy Laya, academicians like OD Corpuz and social scientists like Blas Ople. A good leader brings in talents he doesn’t possess. I humbly submit that running a city needs multi-dimensional decision-making, not a monochromatic chorus of similarly-trained professionals, who belong to only one discipline and integrated bar.

Department heads are like members of a mini-Cabinet. All aspects of decision-making should be represented by an expert. I have the highest respect for the incoming mayor and my unqualified esteem for the incoming vice mayor. And I have my unquestioned loyalty to the IBP and the legal profession. But I’m quite concerned that my good friend, the mayor, is going to run the city government with almost 90% of his most trusted men and women as lawyers only. There’s nothing wrong with that “per se.” But is there going to be a balanced and more inclusive decision-making? Will there be enough management and financial expertise, aside from the other dimensions of governance?

I shouldn’t be misunderstood. I truly want this mayor and vice mayor to perform well, to be loved by the people even more because they are good men. I give them all the presumptions of best judgment, but I really have my concerns. In making decisions, there are factors other than law that need to be considered, like economics, finance, public works, taxation, peace and order, education, social welfare and services, sanitation, and traffic. Are lawyers prepared to make decisions on all these multi-faceted challenges? I have doubts.

Well, lawyers are, of course, honorable men and women. They are trained to decide on the basis of law and to stay within the bounds of what is legally appropriate. However, is this management team properly balanced and considering other factors of administration and governance?

I’m not criticizing, only asking because it’s my sincere desire that this new administration succeeds where the previous one failed. I think my question is too late because names have been announced. Most probably, jobs have been offered and were accepted. Good luck to them.

Incoming mayor Edgardo Labella is an excellent lawyer. Incoming vice mayor Michael Rama is likewise an outstanding lawyer. The new city administrator is also a lawyer, like the chief of staff, the city treasurer, the budget officer, the accounting department head, and even the general services head are all lawyers. Of course, the city attorney should be a lawyer. The only non-lawyer perhaps are the city health officer and city engineer. So, will there be so much legal arguments and debates? I keep my fingers crossed.

At the end of the day, what matters most is all promises are kept, all expectations fulfilled, and all functions performed. Not just in accordance with law. Beyond the realm of law is an open field called excellence in leadership, successful management, and splendid achievements. I hope to see the city there.

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