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EXPLAINER: The duties, responsibilities of an acting mayor

By: Pia Piquero - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | May 29,2024 - 08:59 PM

Garcia acting mayor

Acting Cebu City Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia. | Screengrab from the video of the Cebu City News and Information

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Cebu City Vice Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia assumed the role of acting mayor following the preventive suspension of Mayor Michael Rama.

In a resolution on May 8, 2024, the Office of the Ombudsman has ordered Rama placed under preventive suspension for six months.

The Ombudsman’s decision dated May 2, stemmed from an administrative case filed by four City Hall employees – Filomena Atuel, Maria Almicar Dionggzon, Sybil Ann Ybañez, and Chito Dela Cerna – against Rama and seven City Hall officials last April.


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Also suspended were City Administrator and lawyer Collin Rossell, Maria Theresa Rossell, Francis May Jacaban, Angelique Cabugao, Jay-Ar Pescante, Lester Joey Beniga, and Nelyn Sanrojo.

Garcia as acting mayor

With Rama serving his suspension, Garcia was named as the acting mayor based on a memorandum from the Department of the Interior and Local Government in Central Visayas (DILG-7) dated May 11.

Garcia officially assumed as the acting mayor on May 13.

On his first day in office, Garcia announced several new appointments to ensure smooth operation at City Hall.

His appointees included Lawyer Kristine Joyce Batucan, the new City Administrator and Liezel Calamba, the new City Assessor. He also named Sam Salimbago as his Chief of Staff.

READ: EXPLAINER: Rama suspension and why the Ombudsman ordered it?

Aside from making new appointments, what else can Garcia do as the acting Cebu City mayor?

Temporary vacancy

The functions of the acting mayor are defined by several legal resources provided by the DILG-7.

Section 444 in relation to Section 445 No. 4 of the Local Government Code of 1991 states that the vice mayor must exercise the powers and perform the duties and functions of the mayor in cases of temporary vacancy.

READ: Suspension order vs Rama, 7 others not yet final – DILG-7

Section 46 of the Code also states that when the governor, city or municipal mayor, or punong barangay “is temporarily incapacitated to perform his duties due to physical or legal reasons such as, but not limited to, leave of absence, travel abroad, or suspension from office, the vice-governor, city or municipal vice-mayor, or the highest-ranking sangguniang barangay member shall automatically exercise the powers and perform the duties and functions of the local chief executive concerned, except the power to appoint, suspend, or dismiss employees, which can only be exercised if the period of temporary incapacity exceeds thirty (30) working days.”

Duties, functions of the acting mayor

As acting mayor, the Local Government Code suggests that Garcia can now perform the duties and responsibilities of the duly elected mayor. This includes overseeing daily operations at City Hall, enforcing laws and ordinances, and managing various departments and offices.

His responsibilities also include managing the city’s budget to ensure that financial resources are properly allocated.

In addition, he is tasked to oversee revenue collection and expenditures to prevent any discrepancies.

As the acting mayor, Garcia is also on top of overseeing the city’s law enforcement efforts to maintain peace and order and ensure disaster preparedness.

Moreover, Garcia is to represent Cebu City in official functions and public events.  He also holds the authority to sign documents, contracts, and other official papers on behalf of the city government.

On May 20 or a week after he assumed as the acting mayor, Garcia ordered the release of the withheld salaries of the four regular employees whose complaints led to Rama’s preventive suspension for six months.

At the same time, he announced their reinstatement to their original posts at the City Assessor’s Office.

Limit of his powers

However, his authority as the acting mayor is only temporary and will expire upon Rama’s return to City Hall, according to the Local Government Code.

While Garcia has the power to implement existing policies, he is restricted from making significant policy changes or long-term commitments.  He is also prohibited from entering into long-term contracts.

Major policy decisions typically require the approval of the Mayor or the Sangguniang Panlungsod (City Council).

Also, Garcia could not make permanent appointments to key positions without following the proper approval process.

Similarly, he is restricted from dismissing key officials without due process and necessary approvals, preventing arbitrary decisions.

Under the watch of the acting mayor, the legislative power will remain with the Sangguniang Panlungsod. Garcia can propose ordinances or resolutions, but he cannot enact these without the council’s approval.

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TAGS: Cebu City, cebu news, Raymond Garcia

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