Monday , June 25, 2018

Seares: Andales is right. And wrong

CEBU City Councilor Sisinio Andales is right about the term of Councilor Philip Zafra, president of the city’s Association of Barangay Councils (ABC).

Zafra, like all the other barangay captains in the country, enjoys congressional extension of term until May 14 next year. But as ex-officio member of the City Council, his term expired last June 30, 2016.

Under Local Government Code [LGC] (section #494), Zafra, as well as all other ABC presidents in similar situations, shall serve in the council but the no case shall be beyond the term of the ‘sanggunian’ concerned.”

The phrase “in no case” seems to imply that the expiry allows no exception. The term of the City Council to which Zafra became a member in 2013 ended last year.

SC decision

But, alas, Councilor Andales is also wrong--and on the core of the issue, which is: Should Zafra have been kicked out as early as June 30, 2016 when the City Council term ended although the term of barangay captains was extended?

The answer is no. Zafra will keep his seat, lawfully, at least for now, the LGC and Andales protest notwithstanding.

[] Not because the national executive board of Liga ng mga Barangay ordered all ABCs not to hold any new election of officers until it says so; and

[] Not because DILG issued a memorandum to hold the said elections next month, which it circulated before the congressional fiat to reset the barangay polls.

SC ruling

The reason is the Supreme Court ruling in the case of Raul Galarosa (not de la Rosa) vs. RTC Judge Eudarlio Valencia [GR#109453, Nov. 11, 1993].

Not a side question but the main issue in that case involving the ABC in Sorsogon, Sorsogon. Can the ABC chief hold over pending the election of a new chief of chiefs of barangays? Yes, the decision said.

Holdover, gap

Then Associate Justice Hilario Davide Jr. (he was named chief justice only in 1998) cited DILG’s Un-numbered circular of June 15, 1992 and article 210 of the implementing rules for the LGC by the oversight committee. Both recognize the right of the incumbent to hold over until a new ABC head is elected and and qualified.

Elections of barangay captains are postponed until next year. But the councilor seat is different from the barangay captain seat, Andales argues. Correct. That must be why DILG ordered ABCs in a circular to hold election of new officers this Nov. 30.

Davide couldn’t have put it more clearly when he wrote that the LGC “could not have been intended to allow a gap in the representation of barangays” in the “sanggunian.”

Think of the barangays’s collective leadership and citizens from society’s basic unit whom ABC represents in the “sanggunian.” Imagine the “hiatus” in public service, which the law and the courts hate.

Work on bry chiefs

Instead of trying to expel Zafra now, BOPK may as well work on Team Rama barangay captains who will vote at ABC for his replacement. That could be hard labor but probably more productive than trying to oust Zafra before his successor is chosen.