Briones: Nothing to worry about

I don’t doubt former Cebu City Administrator Floro Casas Jr. is grief-stricken over the death of Mayor Edgardo Labella.

Casas wouldn’t be where he is, I mean, was without the latter who appointed him to the post.

And they must have been close. Really close.

How else would you explain Labella entrusting him to sign disbursement vouchers, payrolls, purchase requests and other official documents?

The late mayor, a lawyer and a former ombudsman, should have known that by granting Casas this authority, he was violating the National Guidelines on Internal Control Systems and pertinent provisions of the Government Accounting and Auditing Manual, as well as Section 20 of the Republic Act (RA) 3857, or the Revised Charter of the City of Cebu.

As for RA 3857, it states that “one of the functions of the mayor is ‘to represent the city in all its business matters and sign in its behalf all its bonds, contracts and obligations made in accordance with the laws or ordinances’.”

Yet Labella did. And might I add with the City Council’s approval. Probably because Labella was truly a nice guy who believed that the people he trusted would do the right thing. And maybe they did. Most of them, anyway. I’m sure there was one or two who had other things in mind. Probably.

Let’s not be naïve.

Anyway, my beef with the former city administrator is that he blatantly misinformed the public about Labella’s health.

Throughout the year, we only had Casas’ word that the mayor was physically and mentally capable to run the affairs of the City while on a work-from-home arrangement.

There was even that ridiculous photo of – oh, never mind.

At the end of August, Casas claimed that the mayor’s health condition was “steadily improving” even though Labella had just been on medical leave for more than a month because of a “persistent cough.” That they were just waiting for the doctors to give the latter the go-signal to return to office, he said.

In fairness to Casas, he was just protecting a good friend. Probably.

It’s no wonder then that he and Labella’s other trusted aides would “feel alone and at a loss on what to do” with the mayor gone.

“Mayor, we feel that our boat, the boat you made, is sinking,” Casas lamented during the necrological service for Labella at City Hall Friday, Nov. 26, 2021.

It was probably just the grief talking. He probably has nothing to be afraid of. After all, he of all people should know that Labella survived a shipwreck in 1998 by clinging to a floating object and hanging on for dear life for 32 straight hours.

Then again, Labella was an extraordinary man who defied convention.