Council fails to get quorum-A A +A
By JM Agreda
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
WAS it intentional or mere coincidence?
Acting Vice Mayor Edison Bilog might have let the absence of majority of the councilors pass during his first time to preside over the City Council on September 30.
But not this time, after the city's number one councilor questioned the absence of his colleagues on Monday, Bilog's second time to preside over the regular session.
In an interview Tuesday, Bilog said the minority bloc of the City Council was left at the Session Hall while seven councilors belonging to the majority seemed to have boycotted the regular session resulting in a non-quorum.
Vice Mayor Daniel Fariñas and Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda are on official travel to South Korea.
Among those present were Councilors Faustino Olowan, Peter Fianza, Isabelo Cosalan, Elaine Sembrano and Joel Alangsab. According to procedures, eight councilors are needed to make a quorum.
Among those absent during the roll call were Councilors Richard Cariño, Leandro Yangot, Karminn Yangot, Fred Bagbagen, Elmer Datuin, Roberto Ortega and Rocky Aliping.
Bilog said while councilors are allowed not to attend the regular session, they are responsible of explaining, at least, through an official communication to the SP, the reason why they are unable to attend a session.
However, Bilog said reports from the SP secretariat showed not one among the absent councilors were able to give formal communication of their absence "with SP staff reporting they cannot be located while others are in equally important meetings."
"They will not [be penalized] for their actions but kung mapapatunayan na talagang sinasadya ito [a complaint could be filed with the Ethics Committee]. Ito po ay pwedeng magawa para magkaroon ng investigation," Bilog said.
He stressed the non-quorum has resulted in the postponement of action on pending legislations. Several invited guests present to shed light on several pressing issues were also left waiting in the session hall.
Included in Monday’s agenda were discussions regarding the cutting of trees of a developer along Marcos Highway; discussions on the legality of productivity incentives; and Baguio public market issues.
Bilog said he already heard reports of a non-quorum at the City Council during Monday’s flag raising ceremony and department heads’ meeting.
"But I said, how can there be no quorum, when only one councilor is on official travel in South Korea? And totoo nga na wala talagang quorum noong hapon kasi nag-absent ang pito," he alleged.
Councilor Rocky Aliping, meanwhile, told Bilog he will catch up citing equally important activities to attend to but failed to make it in the roll call.
Councilor Cariño's is sick according to his staff while Councilor Datuin said he was in a meeting during the first hours of the regular session and when he arrived at the Session Hall the SP already adjourned.
Councilors Leandro and Karminn Yangot, Bagbagen and Ortega provided no explanation for their absence to the SP Secretary.
If proven that these councilors indeed intentionally skipped sessions, there might be sanctions on them, the former chair of the Ethics, Governmental Affairs and Personnel chairman said.
Bilog upon assuming office last July resigned as chairman of the EGAP Committee.
“Hindi naman nakasalalay ang committee chairmanship sa pag-preside ko sa council. Kasi kahit wala akong committee chairmanship ay pwede akong mag-preside,” he said.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on November 06, 2013.