Why do coterminous officials of Labella need to step down?
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Coterminous officials under the administration of the late Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella were asked not to report to work anymore by new Mayor Michael Rama.
This announcement did not sit well with many netizens who expressed dismay for the decision of Rama to ‘remove’ the loyal officials of the duly elected mayor.
“Shame on you, Mike Rama…Why deprive people of their incomes, especially this holiday season. Now I understand why Mayor Labella did not resign even when he was very sick. It was to protect the jobs of the employees,” said one of the netizens who commented on a CDN Digital post.
Following the statement of the new mayor, some coterminous officials have publicly announced their resignation as well, including members of the Cebu City Sports Center Management Committee.
Lawyer Frank Malilong, one of the committee members posted on his Facebook profile their resignation captioned, “We resigned. Hagbay ra.”
The resignation was filed on November 5 even before the death of Labella on November 19, drawing concerns on whether even committees will be dissolved due to the change in administration.
Malilong told CDN Digital that their reason for the resignation was due to the lack of consultation of the city government led by then Acting Mayor Rama over the transformation of the Cebu City Sports Center into a quarantine center.
“We became irrelevant with the closure of the Sports Center, which was decided upon without consultations. We resigned quietly because we did not want it to become a circus but with Mayor Rama’s public exhortation for coterminous officials and employees to resign, we were forced to announce it to show compliance,” he said.
Yet why do coterminous officials have to resign or step down upon a change in administration, in this case, brought by the death of Mayor Labella?
Lawyer Jocelyn Pesquera, who will be taking the vacated seat of new Vice Mayor Donaldo Hontiveros in the council, explained to CDN Digital that by operation of law, the terms of coterminous officials will also end with the term of their appointing officer.
According to Section 9 of Rule IV of the 2017 Omnibus Rules on Appointments and Other Human Resource Actions, coterminous appointments are “issued to a person whose tenure is limited to a period specified by law or whose continuity in the service is based on the trust and confidence of the appointing officer/authority or of the head of the organizational unit where assigned.”
Under Section 14 of Rule V of the Omnibus Civil Service Rules Implementing Book V of the Administrative Code of 1987, an appointment coterminous with the appointing authority is co-existent with the tenure of the appointing authority or at his pleasure.
There are actually different coterminous appointments that can be granted to an office including the following: co-terminous with the appointing authority; co-terminous with the head of the organizational unit where assigned; co-terminous with the incumbent; co-terminous with the project; co-terminous with the life span of the agency.
Pesquera explained in a phone interview with CDN Digital that Mayor Rama could not order the removal of the coterminous officials, they are simply automatically removed from service because the law dictates so.
“Many people are thinking na daghan ni silang coterminous. Actually, we found out, 12 ra ni sila kabuok coterminous nga mawala. Dili tanang department heads coterminous man, some of them are casual (employees), so if dili sila coterminous, they will stay,” said Pesquera.
When Mayor Labella died, it was automatic that the terms of his coterminous officials ended as well.
She notes that it is important that for positions that are imbued with trust and confidence, the new mayor has the ability to appoint his own officials because often they are authorized to handle crucial documents, transactions, and contracts on behalf of the city.
This is why Mayor Rama must be able to appoint his own coterminous officials because any action being done by these officials, Rama will be held liable.
Pesquera urges the public not to immediately brand the statement of Rama as “insensitive” as the new mayor is actually working hard to ensure that no City Hall service will be hampered with the sudden change of administration.
City Council preps for changes
Vice Mayor Hontiveros told CDN Digital that they expect a lot of changes in the Executive Department that need the approval of the City Council.
This is why the Council held a special session on Thursday, November 25, 2021, a day before the funeral of Mayor Labella, to finish any foregoing business before next week.
Next week, Hontiveros expects that the council will be reviewing the tenure of many officials and approving the appointment of new ones, including that of Acting City Administrator Suzanne Ardosa.
“We are preparing for that nga next week daghan tag changes, mag approve ta. We are working with the new City Admin, si Engineer Ardosa, to facilitate these changes,” said Hontiveros.
The new vice mayor has recently raised concern if the changes in positions will affect the crucial legislations of the Council especially the ongoing budget hearing with the sudden change of leadership in some departments.
“Naa gyoy effect ni ang changes. Mao sad na akong gipangutana if unsaon ang budget hearing, pero padayon ra man gihapon ta,” he added.
Hontiveros assured the public that the City Council will ensure a smooth transition between administrations, as they will remain constant in the City Hall, anyway. /rcg
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