“Shame on you for bringing your politics into this body,” said Cathy Ruiz, co-chairman of the Cebu City Development Council.
Her comments were directed at Rep. Rachel “Cutie” del Mar and the presiding officer Cebu City Michael Rama, who used up almost two hours of the CCDC’s last quarterly meeting of the year arguing over del Mar’s bid to have her father Raul recognized as her proxy in the council.
The meeting at City Hall adjourned at 1 p.m. after several barangay captains allied with the del Mars staged a walkout by not returning after lunch.
Behind the debate over procedure is a two-year conflict over new flyovers.
The flyovers, a top priority of the del Mars, who are pushing for the rise of two flyovers worth P430 million have been repeatedly blocked by the mayor backed by the citizens group Movement for a Liveable Cebu, urban planners, ecology advocates and traffic managers.
Mayor Rama refused to recognize the former congressman as a CDC member or include him in the discussion.
“We will just have to wait for the next mayor to come before we discuss the flyover issue again” Raul told reporters later. He was referring to his close ally Rep. Tomas Osmeña who is running for mayor in 2013.
Del Mar was overheard telling his ally barangay captains to leave the hall before the meeting could resume after lunch.
With no quorum, the mayor had to adjourn the meeting.
The council was unable to tackle the main agenda: approval of P900 million worth of projects in the 2013 Annual Investment Plan for Cebu City.
These projects are funded by the 20 percent share of Cebu City’s annual internal revenue allotment and are supposed to be approved by the local development council, as provided n the 1991 Local Government Code. (See separate story)
The council, headed by the mayor, is composed of all city barangay captains, the district congressman, with NGO representatives composing 40 percent.
Ruiz, a representative of the NGO Akbayan, expressed her frustration over the conduct of the meeting.
“I did not come here to get a front row seat to another sparring bout. I am here because I love Cebu City. I would like to remind all of you of proper conduct and decorum because you are elected officials, the reason why you are called ‘honorables.’ Shame on you for bringing your politics into this body,” she said.
Ruiz appealed to officials and other CDC members to focus on their mandate to craft policies for Cebu City’s growth.
“We are the Cebu City Development Council. Let us leave partisan interests outside the door,” she said.
During the tense exchange, the mayor called for two recesses.
After the lunch break, only 48 of the 71 members in attendance returned for the meeting.
Former congressman Raul del Mar said he was not worried about the fate of the flyover projects.
He said he attended a meeting at the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) regional office on Thursday where he was shown a list of priority projects for implement in 2014.
He said the list includes the two flyover projects he is proposing in barangays Mabolo and Kasambagan.
A DPWH moratorium on flyovers was declared in October last year by Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson. However, critics fear the freeze order will be soon lifted unless affected sectors, like residents and business owner in F. Cabahug Street, step up objections.
CDC members gathered at the social hall yesterday morning for their fourth quarter meeting.
Cutie and her father, Raul del Mar, arrived earlier than the 8:30 a.m. call time. The mayor followed soon after.
The meeting only got underway at ll:20 a.m. after late arrivals of council members, who reached a quorum of 71, including barangay captains and NGO and PO representatives.
The congresswoman stood up to raise what she said was a “fundamental” issue – her father’s presence as her official representative.
She said the mayor’s refusal to recognize Raul in the CDC special meeting held last month was tantamount to “denying my right to speak”.
What the del Mars seek is reconsideration of a CDC resolution passed during a June 2012 meeting, which excludes flyover projects from the city’s priority projects for DPWH in 2013.
Tejero barangay captain Jesse lou Cadungog, a del Mar ally, said affected barangays wanted to discuss the flyover issue.
“Nganong dili man na dawaton nga presiding officer ra man ka? (Why don’t you accept this when you are only the presiding officer,” he told the mayor.
Cutie focused on urging the CDC to recognize her father as her official representative in her absence.
“I am not entertaining that,” the mayor said.
“That is not for you to decide. That is for the body to decide,” Cutie retorted.
At one point, the mayor told Del Mar she was not in congress and doesn’t need not deliver a privilege speech.
Del Mar invoked section 107 of the Local Government Code on the composition of the development council which includes “the congressman or his representative”.
While she spoke, Rama commented, “are there two congressmen talking now?” after noticing that her father was giving suggestions to her on the side.
“Do you have a problem with that?” the congresswoman asked.
More than once a barangay captain interrupted the tense exchange to remind officials that the main agenda of the CDC was to approve the 2013 Annual Investment Plan on the agenda.
When Rep. del Mar pushed for the council to decide on this issue of recognizing her father, the mayor called for lunch break.
Not enough barangay captains came back to have a quorum. The meeting was over. /Doris C. Bongcac, Chief Of Reporters