BACOLOD City Councilor Caesar Distrito said Sunday the month-long suspension meted by Office of the Ombudsman on three incumbent councilors will not affect the determination of quorum of the City Council regular session.
Distrito, majority floor leader, said since there is legal prohibition from the three incumbent Councilors Em Ang, Sonya Verdeflor, and Wilson Gamboa Jr. to attend the regular session, the City Council, which is composed of 13 councilors, is now counted as 10 members plus the vice mayor to make it 11.
The Ombudsman had earlier ordered the suspension for one month and one day of Ang, Verdeflor, and Gamboa, and four former councilors, including Jocelle-Batapa Sigue, Roberto Rojas, Alex Paglumotan, and Archie Baribar for simple neglect of duty.
The complaint was filed by former councilor Juan Ramon Guanzon, also former chairman of Games Amusement Board, after the City Council approved a resolution authorizing the holding of cockfights on certain dates contrary to a city ordinance on April 25, 2016.
“So they will not be counted on the determination of the quorum and six members are needed to start the session or if there will be five members plus the vice mayor, there will be a quorum,” Distrito said.
Quorum is the minimum number of members of an assembly or society that must be present at any of its meetings to make the proceedings of that meeting valid.
Distrito said that in the determination of the majority of all members, the Department of the Interior and Local Government opined that the vice mayor is not included.
“For the passage of budget and other legislations that requires majority of all members, we only need six members, excluding the vice mayor,” he said.
The City Council will hold a regular session today because there will be vice mayors and councilors leagues gatherings on Wednesday.
Distrito said he was saddened and sympathized with the suspended councilors.
“We believe that the Ombudsman decision is unfair and harsh,” he said.
Distrito noted that the City Council discusses a minimum of five cockfighting barangay resolutions every session and they usually rely on the resolution of the barangays regarding the dates of their fiesta celebrations.
“Since it is a barangay resolution, we expect that there is a presumption of regularity,” he said.
Distrito added that cockfighting is part of the fiesta tradition and it is part of the barangays’ fund-raising activities.
He said the city ordinance prohibits the conduct of cockfighting in a maximum of three days provided the gap will not exceed in one week.
“I am saddened with the decision because Councilor Ang is one of the hardworking councilors, her voice in the council will be missed, especially so when she speaks out her mind we listen to her because of her precise point and logic on her arguments,” Distrito said.
“I have differences with Councilors Gamboa and Verdelor, but purely this are political and policy differences, but as a colleague in City Council, I believe that the penalty is too harsh for them and they don’t deserve it,” he said.
Ang is chairperson of committee on health, and tourism and international cooperation; Verdeflor is chairperson of committee on trade, commerce, and industry; and Gamboa is chairperson of committee on ways and means, and history, culture and arts.
In the meantime, their vice chairpersons will take over their respective committees.