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Countdown to Christmas begins

08:31 AM December 17, 2013

Yesterday saw the offering of the first of nine dawn masses that usher in Christmas. The season is already  near and everybody is in a frenzy making their final preparations. We  can smell the spirit of Christmas though it seems subdued considering that many  people are still suffering the loss of lives and properties because of supertyphoon Yolanda.
I am elated that many people are determined to show their empathy with people who are suffering by deciding to celebrate Christmas without fanfare. Many  have answered the call to help those in need. Help has shifted from providing relief goods to  providing materials to rebuild places devastated by the typhoon and to help survivors return to living normal lives.
I am indeed amazed by the spirit of empathy, generosity and love shown. Believe me, it has become  contagious. The strength of the Filipino people, recognized by many in the world, the latest being pop idol Justin Bieber, is also making us proud.
But what was funny in the aftermath of the typhoon is the continuing debate over the government’s response to the crisis. Recently, I read a timeline of what transpired after the typhoon, which correctly narrated that Secretary Mar Roxas II and Secretary Voltaire Gazmin were in Tacloban City two days before the typhoon hit the city.
It was also shown that Roxas came out with a statement that the local government unit indeed prepared for the typhoon, belying once again the observations made by officials that the local government unit was not prepared as shown by its many casualties.
The common observation is that the national government took quite some time to help Tacloban City as the situation was considered dismal. The President even had the gall to put the responsibility of responding on the shoulders of the local government when in fact local officials were also victims of the typhoon.
On hindsight, the national government should have responded immediately to help the people of Tacloban City. Finger pointing has no place in a calamity of Yolanda’s magnitude. We all hope that the government learned a lot from what happened in Tacloban City.
To one and all, let us celebrate  the birth of Jesus Christ by shifting gears from material to more spiritual activities. Fr. Ramon Mores, SJ properly closed the Mass last Sunday by quoting St. Francis of Assisi , who said “I shall live in this world only once. Any good and kindness I could do, I do it now because I may not pass this world again.”
* * *
This Wednesday, the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) will elect its new set of officers in polls that are considered a proxy war between Mayor Michael Rama and former congressman Tomas Osmeña.
The election is  crucial because the winner automatically sits in the City Council as ex officio official. If an ally of Rama wins, that means an additional member on his side and if an ally of Osmeña wins it means that the camp of Osmena is a force to reckon with in Cebu City politics.
As  of this writing,  the camp of Philip Zafra, an ally of Rama has more than enough votes to win the ABC presidency. But as the saying goes, it is only final once the votes are cast, so the fight is still up for grabs with the camp of Osmeña hoping to pull a surprise, which is possible given the situation.
I think the camp of Zafra may have the slight edge because the people have grown sick and tired of the obstructionist stance of the Bando Osmena-Pundok Kauswagan dominated council that is sometimes confused whether to act as mayor or as City Council.
Many  times councilors in the majority think that they are still in power in dealing with the mayor.  Some ordinances and resolutions   may be considered ultra vires for stepping the powers of  a council.

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