ATTY. PACHICO A. SEARES:

A more press­ing and sub­stan­tial is­sue comes from the land­fill it­self. Face­book vul­gar­ity about the woman’s gen­i­talia is less ur­gent than the need for an ex­plicit and sound pol­icy on garbage dis­posal

Sun.Star Cebu - - TOP STORIES - PACHICO A. SEARES paseares@gmail.com

Seares ex­am­ines the re­cent con­tro­versy that Cebu City Mayor To­mas Os­meña is mired in re­gard­ing the use of vul­gar words re­fer­ring to the woman’s sex organ in the mayor’s Face­book ac­count. At best, the coarse words were pro­duced in a mo­ment of naugh­ti­ness, if not mean­ness, by the per­son who writes and up­loads the con­tent in the mayor’s Face­book ac- count, Seares says. Mayor To­mas tried to dodge re­spon­si­bil­ity by say­ing he didn’t do it and he didn’t ap­prove it, but it’s a limp ex­cuse, “the kind that crum­bles in a sec­ond.”

At worst, the vul­gar words re­fer­ring to the woman’s sex organ, as used in Cebu City Mayor To­mas Os­mea’s Face­book ac­count, were in gross bad taste, un­be­fit­ting any per­son of high rank or even the plain cit­i­zen who be­lieves good man­ners still mat­ter. Po­lit­i­cal ri­vals blame the mayor for the of­fense.

At best, the coarse words were pro­duced in a mo­ment of naugh­ti­ness, if not mean­ness, by the per­son who writes and up­loads the con­tent in the mayor’s Face­book ac­count. Not my words and not with my knowl­edge or con­sent, Mayor Osmena said in an apol­ogy.

What must have set it off was the dis­pute over the garbage dump in Inayawan, Pardo. The mayor wants to buy chem­i­cals to re­move or re­duce the stink at the site. Team Rama coun­cilors think it goes against the rea­son for its clo­sure, which they say the court has or­dered.

His de­fense

Mayor To­mas tried to dodge re­spon­si­bil­ity by say­ing (1) he didn’t do it and (2) he didn’t ap­prove it.

As limp as an ex­cuse can get, the kind that crum­bles in a sec­ond. He is the ac­count holder and pur­ported writer or speaker. In the space, the mayor uses “I” with sev­eral photos of him­self to sup­port his words as he talks about his work as mayor. Now he says, “not me”?

Disown­ing work

Pri­vate per­son or pub­lic of­fi­cial, more so if one is a pub­lic fig­ure, one doesn’t dis­own what he presents to the pub­lic as his: be it a speech, an op-ed piece in the pa­per, or a blog or some lines in so­cial me­dia.

Sen. Tito Sotto and a prom­i­nent busi­ness­man didn’t deny they wrote the speeches they de­liv­ered al­though ob­vi­ously it was their ghost­writ­ers who pla­gia­rized for them. Ghosts don’t get credit but nei­ther the blame, not in pub­lic par­tic­u­larly.

Go­ing to court

Team Rama mem­bers are rar­ing to go to court over the vul­gar­ity, which has been the talk of the town since the story erupted.

In the course of the run­ning dis­pute over the Inayawan dump­site, the mayor was an­noyed by Team Rama’s “ob­struc­tion.” His hash tag in­di­cated a foul mood: “#TeamRa­maBa­hogBi..t.” Which scan­dal­ized Coun­cilor Joy Pes­quera, the only high-pro­file woman mem­ber of Team Rama.

What’s the charge? Surely, not li­bel. Coarse but not defam­a­tory. Maybe, vi­o­la­tion of pub­lic of­fi­cial’s code of con­duct.

More press­ing is­sue

But why bother. A law­suit over vul­gar words won’t help move the de­bate on Inayawan for­ward. Team Rama ought to aim higher, to­wards the tar­get, which is to pro­tect and pro­mote pub­lic in­ter­est: a sound, de­fin­i­tive pol­icy on garbage dis­posal.

City Hall might be run­ning cir­cles around the court or­der to close the dump site. If they must sue, Team Rama coun­cilors may do bet­ter if it ze­roes in on the more press­ing and more weighty is­sue.

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