Let it stick. Do not sue Tomas
TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag (The Freeman) - July 8, 2019 - 12:00am

It is not winning the mayorship of Cebu City that defines the political career of Edgar Labella. It is his beating of erstwhile mayor Tomas Osmeña en route to getting there that does. A mayor gets elected every election but it is not as often that one gets to beat an Osmeña. Labella should savor his exemplary achievement and keep it for posterity instead of spoiling it.

Therefore, if I may offer an unsolicited advice to Labella, he should not make suing Osmeña the first major step he takes in office even if there is a personal urge and a legal basis to do so. Let what the former mayor did in the aftermath of his defeat; be the perpetual testament to the character and temperament of the man Cebuanos allowed to be their leader for so long.

Osmeña, perhaps in pique and bitterness, and maybe out of spite, made sure Labella got the message that he did not relish relinquishing his office to his former vice mayor. He had a construction company's wrecking crew strip the mayor's office of everything. Out went the furniture, lighting fixtures, plumbing, ceiling, wall panels, carpet, even the tiles underneath.

Pictures of the destruction went viral, leaving Cebuanos shamed and feeling violated, and the rest of the world not knowing whether to laugh or cry. What Osmeña did was so demonstrative of a character so unworthy of public trust it actually becomes a priceless template for what to look out for and guard against in every aspirant seeking public office.

Let the deed and the pictures that documented it stand for all time. Let it forever be a painful and embarrassing reminder to Cebuanos of the folly in not choosing well their leaders, of not making character the main standard for public office. Let it be the scar of a bad choice that must not be glossed over and forgotten.

The legal authorities at City Hall are reportedly now planning to sue Osmeña over the deed. Labella must stop them. He needs to keep the moral high ground. True, there is legal basis to run after Osmeña. But people will not remember the legal basis for long. Eventually, it will assume the air of just another vengeful and political act.

Besides, if Osmeña gets his day in court, he acquires the valuable and equal chance to prove he has done nothing wrong. If that happens, then his slate will be wiped clean and what Cebuanos suffered will be for nothing. It will be rubbing salt on a wound. To let Osmeña have the last laugh is to add insult to injury.

Right now Osmeña is being judged and convicted before the bar of public opinion. This may not be the best avenue to seek redress in a democracy but for God's sake let the man twist in the wind for once. There will be other opportunities and reasons to go after Osmeña in the future. Let this not be one of them.

TOMAS OSMEñA
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