By: F. Allan L. Angelo and Maricyn A. De los Santos
MAJOR developments are to be expected at the Iloilo City Hall ranging from Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog taking a leave of absence to a major revamp in the City Government.
But all these will be clarified when Mabilog returns from his trip in Malaysia, according to his lawyer and spokesperson Mark Piad.
Mabilog has been out of the country since Aug 31 to Sept 3, 2017 in Yokohama City, Japan for the 10th CITYNET Disaster Cluster Seminar. He then flew to Malaysia for the Urban Environmental Accords Melaka Summit 2017 at A’Famosa Resort Hotel, Alor Gajah, Melaka from Sept 7-9.
Amid his absence, reports circulated that Mabilog is mulling to go on leave as Pres. Rodrigo Duterte continues to ridicule him in public for his alleged links to the illegal drug trade.
The President even tagged Iloilo City as “most shabulized”, “bedrock of illegal drugs”, and transshipment point of drugs”, much to the chagrin of some business and political leaders.
The public shaming even prompted the mayor’s wife and their two children to leave the country in the meantime.
Piad said that going on a temporary leave from office was one of the options they discussed with the mayor “but we gave him time to think it over before deciding.”
“A lot of his friends and supporters recommended that he take a leave of absence in the meantime so we gave him time to reflect,” he added.
As to supposed revamp at the City Hall hierarchy, Piad said they want Mabilog to be the one to announce his plans and moves.
“Everything is vague on that shakeup matter although it could happen. As to who and which office will be affected, it’s unclear because the time is short to decide. He might be back between Monday and Wednesday, so let’s wait,” he added.
VICE MAYOR MUM ON DRUGS ISSUES
While Mabilog is out of the country, Vice Mayor Jose Espinosa III is overseeing the operations at City Hall as acting mayor.
“Per memorandum of the mayor, (my acting mayor status is in effect) until the mayor returns,” Espinosa told reporters after the City Hall flag-raising ceremony on Sept 11, 2017.
As acting mayor, Espinosa said he performs all the functions of the mayor including signing of agreements, among others, but except those that pertain to appointments, suspension and removal from office of City Hall employees.
Not surprisingly, Espinosa distanced himself from the issues affecting the city, particularly illegal drugs and the issues lobbed at Mabilog.
“Ang aton istorya, sa akon lang anay kay damu man mga kinahanglanon ang syudad, so, kwan lang ta, sa affairs sang city lang. All those problems will be taken care by themselves, of itself,” Espinosa told reporters when asked for his reaction as regards Iloilo City’s “most shabulized” tag courtesy of President Duterte.