Rama was right and more
OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide (The Freeman) - November 17, 2019 - 12:00am

A news report proved Cebu City Vice Mayor Michael Rama correct in his actions. I refer to the news that the two top officials of the Cebu City Sinulog Governing Board, namely Barney Borja and Kenneth Cobonpue declared they had authority to organize all central and peripheral activities during 2020 Sinulog celebrations. A subsequent press statement from them said the board “xxx has the right to review and approve all resolutions and actions xxx” of the Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI). The ascendancy of the board over SFI was thus clearly defined. Since this board was created by virtue of an Executive Order by Mayor Edgardo Labella, we can assume it to be a virtual arm of the city government. Rama’s action I refer to was his earlier resignation as SFI chairman. The declaration by the board confirmed the correctness of his move.

To recall, after the board was created, Rama asked how Labella could create an office to review and/or approve the resolutions of a private corporation. When subsequent events further muddled the scene, Rama resigned as SFI chairman. He said it was his way of supporting the leadership of Labella. I had the privilege of understanding his position in a private conversation. He told me that oneness of direction was necessary. By releasing control of SFI, he yielded to the desire of Labella to have a hand in the Sinulog celebrations. Rama’s move was designed to avoid the chance that a decision of SFI would not jive with that of the board. It wasn’t an easy decision to make. But, Rama claimed that the success of the Sinulog was higher than any consideration and it should never be compromised by its being managed by two different bodies. “Too many chefs spoil the broth,” he said.

After his resignation, Rama was criticized so much I felt that a demolition job was launched. Who sanctioned such a vicious campaign was someone outside my wildest speculation. I suspected some personalities but I couldn’t get hold of a smoking gun. There were much circumstantial evidence of political nature to hew together but it was too early to pronounce. Verily, I heard broadcasters lashing Rama. I also read opinions of respected writers ascribing malice his act. An unbelievably scurrilous cacophony of personal aspersions seemed to be playing to the baton of an unseen maestro. Then came, few days ago, the declaration of the people heading the board. What to me was previously apparent became real.

To understand, let us first remember that SFI has, for over 30 years, been the sole entity that organized the Sinulog festivities. It’s a private non-stock corporation composed of men with unsullied reputation. Every year since the early 1980s, they have put their hearts, minds, and resources to make what is now the country’s festival of festivals. They weren’t politicians and precisely because they had no political agenda to promote, their sole interest was to organize the Sinulog to honor the Santo Niño. The city government, whose elected leaders are politicians, all these years and until recently only spent to help run the festivities and provided the peace and order environment. That was the only participation of the city government.

Everything changed with the birth of the board. While Rama thought that there was no problem in running the Sinulog that needed some fixing, he imagined that Labella, from some Machiavellian moves, perceived otherwise. To prop Labella’s perception, Rama sacrificed and rightly, gave way.


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