Retooling the City Council

OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide - The Freeman

In the olden times of the glory that was Greece there were kiosks that were erected in each city-state. The structures were built in exquisite opulence signifying the importance and dignity with which the governing royalties as well as the commoners accorded the buildings. Most of the kiosks were built in areas where people converged.

Learned men of the city states would meet at certain days of the week at the kiosks to discuss issues affecting their localities. It was not difficult to imagine that the likes of such brilliant philosophers such as Socrates and orators such as Demosthenes would voice their ideas on how to defend their city-states against offshore attackers, their opinions on what to do to improve the quality of the life of the inhabitants and their thoughts on how to run their government to the awe and applause of their gathering crowds.

Given the perception that at the kiosks profound thinkers propounded ways to improve their city states, we can consider such venues as precursors or forerunners of our modern legislatures. Indeed at certain days of the week, municipal and city councilors and provincial board members write in their respective agenda matters affecting the lives of their people.

It is my proposition that we have to start anew. Let us rekindle the spirit of the old kiosk and retool it with our best and brightest. Who must then compose the people debating and discussing in the highest interest of the greater mass at the modern kiosks? The first criterion in the search for new public philosophers is intellectual depth. In all candidness, they are easy to identify because their names are specially mentioned as dominating the top finishers of professional licensure examinations in engineering, medicine, accountancy, and other disciplines as well as the Bar exam. The universities and colleges can also be asked to provide the list of their students who graduated with Latin honors in the last two decades.

The second criterion is a person’s perceived social concern. Where does the heart of the professional lie in such social issues as addressing the health needs of the poor, providing the less-privileged people affordable shelter, structuring the systems whereby the rich can contribute in improving the lot of the needy and so forth and so on. Unlike the first criterion which can be easily validated, this second yardstick is more difficult to approximate because, among other reasons, it can be feigned.

Who among the socially concerned Cebu City geniuses shall compose ideally the next City Council? This is an unforgiving question that I dare to ask the top honchos of the two known groups in our city that are expected to do political battle in 2022. These groups are those of Mayor Edgardo Labella and Michael Rama on one hand, and Tomas Osmeña on the other hand. While selecting a new breed of people like Socrates and Demosthenes to sit in the 2022-2025 City Council is quite a theoretically daunting task, it is in fact, made easier to accomplish because the words of Labella-Rama are less prone to challenge and whatever Osmeña says is followed.

I am sure that the call for a new beginning of a form of good governance is in the hearts and minds of Labella, Rama, and Osmeña. In their choosing who shall be their councilors, they need to study who, among the multitude of learned Cebuanos, can partner with them in giving fresh intelligent inputs. I trust that they too believe that City Council really needs reinventing.


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