Character, and the lack of it
TO THE QUICK - Jerry S. Tundag (The Freeman) - July 3, 2019 - 12:00am

To say that the political rivalry between Cebu governor Gwen Garcia and former governor and now vice governor Junjun Davide is laced with bitterness is probably a rolling-on-the-floor-laughing understatement. I do not need to go into their long acrimonious history to stress the fact that they are not friends.

But last Friday, June 28, one could almost cry at the civility, decency, professionalism, dignity, and respect with which the outgoing administration and the incoming one engaged themselves in turnover ceremonies at the Capitol. Cry because it was a great redemptive moment for all Cebuanos who, just days before, had their pride in themselves killed at City Hall.

For at City Hall the exact reverse happened. Not only was there no turnover to speak of, there was in fact nothing to turn over at all. When the outgoing mayor, Tomas Osmeña, had to leave office on the tail of a withdrawn electoral mandate, he decided to physically take home his office with him.

With the lame excuse that he spent for his own office furnishings and embellishments, Osmeña had the office stripped of everything. And by everything is meant all but the air in the room. Out went the tables, chairs, panelings, carpets, even the tiles underneath. The room was left barer than a nude dancer who at least has pubic hair.

And it is not because Osmeña hates new Cebu City mayor Edgar Labella more than Gwen Garcia and Junjun Davide may probably loathe each other. It boils down to character, and the lack of it. Gwen and Junjun may be political enemies. But they know when to keep the bitterness in check and when to put their best foot forward.

In the speech of Gwen, she recalled how she was accorded the same respect by Junjun in similar turnover rites back in 2013, respect that she richly paid back in last Friday's ceremonies. Those who recall the circumstances then and in the intervening years probably expected the "maldita" side of Gwen (sorry, my friend) to play star on stage.

But Gwen has character. She has class. Maybe it is in the upbringing. If she still harbors any ill will at all toward Junjun, she knew full well the occasion did not call for its display. The turnover ceremony, representative as it is of the sovereign will of the Cebuanos being passed on to their chosen leaders, must be a ceremony of pride and honor. And that is how it went.

To their supporters on opposing sides, it was a moment of honor and pride in their leaders. The Capitol turnover ceremony was a great occasion and a refreshing aftermath of the elections for all Cebuanos. A sincere salute then to Gwen and to Junjun. As for what happened at City Hall, it was a crying shame that will haunt and scar us Cebuanos forever.

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