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Former acting mayor absent from city’s gallery of mayors

First Posted 12:16:00 02/26/2008

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CEBU CITY, Philippines - He has a school and a street in Cebu City?s North Reclamation Area named after him. But does anyone really know who Florencio Urot is?

Romeo Borado said very little is known of this former acting Cebu City mayor, who sat in office for 108 days. And the fact that his portrait is not included in the gallery of mayors is not boosting the public?s memory of Urot.

The gallery of paintings used to be displayed in the lobby of City Hall and is now with the Cultural and Historical Affairs Commission (Chac). It shows 24 portraits of men who had served as the city?s chief executive since 1937. Borado, however, said the gallery has a ?missing mayor.?

?What is conspicuously missing is the picture of Hon. Florencio S. Urot, who served the city from September 13 to December 31, 1971,? Borado said.

Borado, describing himself as a ?concerned citizen,? told Cebu Daily News that the case of Urot was first brought to the attention of Vice Mayor Michael Rama and Chac in 2001, when the paintings were first put up in City Hall. Nothing has been done since, said Borado.

?Today, more than six years already have passed, (but) Urot?s case continues to be unresolved,? Borado said.

Rama, however, said the case of the missing mayor is already being looked into, ?but there is a process that we had to follow.?

Rama, chairman of Chac, admitted that data on Urot is scarce.

?We know he became acting mayor, but we have to have that information validated by Chac,? he said.

Rama also said he did not know who had the painting commissioned in 2001, and why Urot?s portrait was not among those made in the first place.

It was former City Hall consultant Pablo Tinga who first called the attention of Rama and then Chac chairman Patricia Perez on the absence of Urot?s painting.

Tinga first wrote Rama about it on September 2002, and again on July 2005.

When the City Hall building underwent renovations in 2006, the paintings were transferred to the Chac offices located in the Rizal Memorial Library and Museum of Osmeña Boulevard.

With the paintings in storage now that building renovations are underway, Urot?s case has again been forgotten.

?Why is Urot?s case being grossly ignored?? asked Borado. ?Perhaps Urot was not remembered when the different pictures (of city mayors) were assembled for public viewing because his name is not as prominent and rich-sounding as the others.?

Borado said that after Urot died on November 19, 1975, his body was not even brought to City Hall for public viewing.

Rama said he was willing to have Urot?s painting commissioned after data on the former acting mayor was verified. The vice mayor said he would ask Mayor Tomas Osmeña for permission to tap the city?s Pagcor funds for the purpose.

But since the gallery is not on display for now, Rama said there was no urgency to have Urot?s painting done immediately.

Rama said the Chac office and the Rizal museum would remain closed until renovations are complete.

According to Borado, Urot was born in 1904 in the town of Tabogon, northern Cebu, to a farmer?s family. Raised to respect the law, he later became the town?s police chief before earning his law degree from the University of Manila. He later migrated to Cebu City to teach at the University of the Visayas and to set up a law firm.

In 1941, Urot was elected to the Cebu City Council, and continued to serve as a legislator until 1971.

During the 1971 elections, then mayor Eulogio Borres and his vice mayor sought other elective positions, requiring them to resign before they could campaign.

With the mayor and vice mayor?s positions left vacant, Urot, as First Councilor, became acting mayor while Councilor Jose Rodriguez became acting vice mayor.

During his incumbency, Urot approved several laws, including one that created the Cebu City Community Commission, tasked to safeguard the living condition of Cebuanos from the dangers of an increasing population and social unrests that growing cities often experience.

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