Rama ally asks court to order City Council to act on SB1
The court was asked yesterday to order the Cebu City Council to deliberate on Supplemental Budget No. 1, which has been set aside six times by opponents of the mayor.
The petition for mandamus was filed by Jose Daluz III, a former city councilor and ally of Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama.
In his petition filed with the Regional Tiral Court, Daluz asked the court to “promptly act, deliberate and vote” on the supplemental budget, which aimed to spend P2.8 billion to pay off the city’s loan for the South Road Projects (SRP).
The court will ask the councilors to answer the allegations before setting the case for hearing.
The filing accompanied an unusual manuever by the mayor’s allies in the City Council to force action on the supplemental budget by seeking police assistance to compel their attendance.
A special session was called for the second time yesterday to discuss the budget but only a handful of legislators showed up in the last working day of 2015.
Six councilors from Team Rama appeared at 4 p.m. in the session hall along with Acting Vice Mayor Nestor Archival.
At least nine members are needed for a quorum.
As expected, the majority bloc of the Bando Osmena-Pundok Kauswagan was a no-show. Their members already went on Christmas break.
Archival, a BO-PK standard bearer, called for a recess until 12 midnight.
(When he returned to the hall at midnight, no one was present.)
Earlier in the afternon , Archival tangled with Councilor Gerardo Carillo who argued that only the majority of the members present can call a recess.
Archival called for a recess three times before leaving the hall.
Carillo asked to take over in steering the council session.
“With your kind permission, may I take the floor as presiding officer since I’m the minority leader?” Carillo asked.
Archival said he could not do so since the session was in recess. Then Archival left the session hall.
Carillo took that as his cue to take over as presiding officer with five members present.
The remaining councilors agreed to seek police assistance to arrest members of the council who were in Cebu City at the time and compel them to attend the session.
Aside from Carillo, other councilors present were David Tumulak, Richie Osmeña, Noel Wenceslao, Nendell Hanz Abella and Philip Zafra.
Councilor Tumulak was tasked to enforce the arrest along with the city council’s sergeant-at-arms and a police officer.
However, the staff of the other councilors said their officials were out of town.
By 9:30 p.m., the Team Rama councilors decided to issue a public notice calling for another session at 10 a.m. today.
Archival, sought for comment, said the proceedings after he left the session hall were invalid because he was still the presiding officer.
He said he would return to City Hall at 12 midnight, when the recess he declared was going to end.
City Attorney Castillo, meanwhile, said he was glad that someone took the cudgels in filing the mandamus case “to clarify everything.”
“What is really the correct position legally and on the matter? Angay ba gyud ipasar o iduso ang SB 1 (Should SB 1 be passed)? Then this will settle everything,” Castillo said.
RTC Judge Alexander Acosta denied the motion for reconsideration filed by Romulo Torres on his earlier decision dismissing his petition questioning the validity of selling SRP lots by public bidding instead of an unsolicited offer.
The decision in effect upheld the validity of the disposal of 45.2 hectares at the SRP in a public auction earlier this year.
Wih this development, Castillo said there was no legal obstacle anymore for the City Council to act on on the P2.8-billion SB 1. The proposed supplemental budget is to be funded from the P8.35-billion down payment for the SRP lots.
Acting Mayor Edgardo Labella, meanwhile, signed an affidavit of undertaking to assure council members that he would take full responsibility in case the court declares the SRP public bidding null and void.
Labella said he will distribute copies of the signed affidavit to the councilors to convince them to attend a special session on SB1.
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