ABC presidents stay as ex-officio sanggunian members
After the “confusion” wrought by the September 6, 2017 memorandum issued by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) directing the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) to hold an election not later than November 30,2017, the DILG clarified that incumbent ABC presidents will continue to sit as ex-officio members of their respective sanggunians.
DILG-7 Officer in Charge of the Legal Division Ian Kenneth Lucero told CDN that the memorandum issued by their main office is only to direct the Liga ng mga Barangays to hold their election not later than November 30, 2017 but did not order the ex-officio members of their respective sanggunian to vacate their positions.
Lucero, however, emphasized that the Liga presidents are considered as acting in a hold-over capacity, until after the National Executive Board (NEB) of the Liga ng mga Barangay (ABC) orders the holding of new elections.
“The national Liga ng mga Barangay has the authority to determine when they will conduct the election for the Liga ng mga Barangay. They have their own calendar of activities based on their Constution and By Laws,” Lucero said.
The DILG legal chief clarified, however, that the directive from the DILG main office has not been revoked despite the passing by Congress of the bill postponing the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections to May 2018. The bill needs the signature of President Rodrigo Duterte before it is enacted into law.
Lucero said Section 494 of the Local Government Code provides that Liga presidents shall serve as ex-officio members of their respective sanggunians (city council, municipal council and provincial board) during their term as president of the liga chapters, which in no case shall be beyond the term of office of the sanggunian concerned.
If the election of the Liga ng mga Barangay will be held, Lucero said that another election will be conducted after the election of the new barangay officials.
If the president of the Liga will lose his or her reelection bid for barangay captain, Lucero said he will automatically lose his seat as ex-officio member of the sanggunian concerned.
“Mao’y basis sa iyang paglingkod as ex-officio member ang iyang pagka presidente sa Liga tungod sa iyang pagka kapitan sa barangay (His basis to sit as an ex-officio member is his being president of the ABC because he was elected barangay captain),” Lucero said.
Do not vacate
Meanwhile, ABC – Cebu Federation president Celestino “Tining” Martinez III told ABC presidents and ex-officio members of sanggunians in Cebu not to vacate their positions.
“We received a resolution from the NEB, telling us to hold on to our positions (both as federation presidents and ex-officio members of the councils concerned) so that it won’t be vacant. We function as ex-officio members and by virtue, elected through the Liga ng mga Barangay sa Pilipinas (or LBP, the Filipino name of ABC), to represent the Liga in the Sanggunian,” Martinez told reporters in the Capitol yesterday.
The holdover positions of ex-officio members in the councils, he said, are also contained in the bills postponing the barangay and SK elections.
“We’re now waiting for the President to sign the bill postponing the elections because the bill also entails the holdover of ex-officio members,” added Martinez.
Martinez clarified that only the NEB can give the go signal for the federations to conduct the elections of their new officers.
“The NEB is the only one who can call for an election in the Liga. … Not even the chapter president can call for it. It’s also the NEB who is authorized to declare the qualified officials to assume the post as federation presidents,” he said.
But Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña insisted that the term of ABC – Cebu City president Philip Zafra has expired and therefore he is no longer authorized to sit as ex-officio councilor of the City Council.
“It is very clear. His term has expired,” Osmeña told reporters yesterday.
He said Zafra should step down as an ex- officio member of the City Council since his term has already expired.
“The law is very clear. I almost memorized it. The ABC expires with the previous Sanggunian. He has no business there (in the City Council). So what is he doing in the Sanggunian?” added Osmeña.
The mayor said he will take legal action to oust Zafra from the council.
Zafra, on the other hand, said he is open to any legal action that the mayor will take in order to address the issue.
He also said he will remain as ABC – Cebu City president and ex-officio member of the Cebu City Council, unless the DILG directs him to vacate.
“With due respect to the mayor, I am still the ABC president. And I still have the authority to sit as an ex-officio member of the council. Under our law, it is only the NEB who can hold an election,” Zafra said.
If Zafra is ousted from the council, Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BO-PK) will get back the majority in the council, which it lost with the resignation of Nendel Hanz Abella.
For now, Barug Team Rama and BO-PK have the same number of councilors, allied with their respective parties. /With USJ-R Intern Kristine Remolisan
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