Vindicated when vindication is hard to come by

TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag - The Freeman

Aside from the direct effects of the COVID-19 pandemic --toll in human lives, economic losses, educational disruptions, psychological distress, etc., there are also indirect impacts that nevertheless tell on the conduct of life, some cruelly and unfairly. One does not have to have the medical records of Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella to know he suffers.

But he suffers more than just a medical condition. He suffers from all forms of unkindness. There are those who wish him ill, to the point that his son Jaypee had to issue a terse statement a few days ago that his father was not dying. There are even more who wish him out of the way, for reasons that are politically clear.

As unkind as it is to circulate rumors about Labella's physical condition, it is just as unkind to peddle lies about huge money being made out of the city government's response to the emergency situation. Talks of overpricing in the purchases of emergency food supplies have hurt Labella deeply. Never mind if it affects only his political interests. But a man of integrity like Labella can suffer physically and emotionally. So can his family.

The whole world, all 200-plus countries of God's overpopulated earth and not just the Philippines with tiny Cebu City in it, got slammed flat down on its back by the pandemic. Nobody saw it coming, or at least not at the time it did. Nobody, therefore, knew how to deal with it nor had the means to do so. It was all touch and go and go when able.

It is therefore utterly despicable to imagine anyone other than the most depraved and unconscionable to even think of cashing in on the misery that has befallen everyone. And yet into this picture were introduced scenarios of lies that takes advantage of the fact that sometimes the truth takes too long in coming, that while it ultimately prevails, it often takes its own sweet time to set things aright.

This is not to gloss over the fact that corruption can happen even in the most squeaky clean environments. But as imperfect as any political leadership might be, with Cebu City being no exception, it has yet to happen in the city's history that such a depravity actually took place, either in its storied and glorious past, or in today's world rendered upside down by a virus no one wants.

Cebuanos are just not known to take advantage of critical situations at the expense of his fellow Cebuanos. Not in their DNA. And because truth ultimately prevails, Labella can at least feel vindicated even if it can no longer cure the hurt it caused. And what a vindication it was, coming from the COA, which gave Cebu City under Labella the highest rating of 6. No mayor since 2009 got such a high rating.

In its report, COA said the city’s financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the City of Cebu as of December 31, 2020, and its financial performance, its cash flows, and its comparison of budget and actual amounts for the year then ended in accordance with International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS).” This answers doubts and insinuations about leadership under crisis at the present time.

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