Political favorsCebu Daily News
You know it’s political season when the brickbats and the exchange of tirades fly faster than usual. Considering that next month is the deadline for registration, it comes as no surprise.
Still, one cannot help but feel both commiseration and a sense of wry ambivalence towards Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama’s announcement that he will only issue sports utility vehicles to his allies in the barangays and not those who continue to pay homage to his erstwhile mentor turned political foe Rep. Tomas Osmeña of Cebu City’s south district.
When not riding fire trucks to inspect the flooded city streets, the mayor has spent a good portion of the week berating and sermonizing the barangay officials for using the government-issued vehicles to pay routine visits to Osmeña, his expected rival in next year’s elections.
Rama and Osmeña’s word war took on a personal note in last Tuesday’s meetings between the mayor and five barangay officials. Rama recounted to the barangay officials in attendance how he was snubbed during a basketball tournament attended by his predecessor, whom everyone kept referring to as the “next mayor of Cebu City.”
“How would you feel if that happened to you?” the mayor asked the barangay officials, one of whom reportedly felt insulted by Rama’s tirade. The exchange was heard by Osmeña, who dismissed the mayor’s complaints by accusing him of engaging in politicking with his refusal to allocate the government vehicles to barangay officials identified with his party.
To be clear, Rama didn’t hold out on the vehicles but merely gave them to allies which is a political reality that the congressman, even in his most vehement dislike of Rama, would have to grudgingly acknowledge.
It’s not as if Osmeña, the former city mayor, is a stranger to this situation. He had also been accused of scrimping on, nay denying aid to barangay Lahug headed then by barangay captain Mary Ann delos Santos who ran against him in the last decade.
At the same time, Rama should know by now how his former benefactor plays the political game. The mayor may have probably heard how Osmeña vowed to double the assistance given to them if he’s elected back to office. And even Rama promised to double the assistance to senior citizens next year if he’s reelected.
This would have been a non-issue were it not for the fact that no matter who occupies Cebu City Hall at the moment, it is the public whose tax money is being used to buy the vehicles supposedly to improve the barangay’s services to them.
That vehicles, cash aid and what have you are being dangled in front of barangay officials in exchange for their loyalty and support only shows how dismal and parochial Cebu’s political culture and the rest of the country remains even in this so-called era of “matuwid na daan (straight path).”
More from this Column:
- Plugging the holes
- Fall of (some of ) Cebu’s old guard
- Enhancing notoriety
- Peace must reign in polls
- Election operators