Scholarship ordinance vetoed

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Saturday, August 25, 2012


CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama has vetoed the ordinance recently passed by the City Council that establishes the City Government’s college scholarship program.

Rama vetoed Section 4 of City Ordinance (CO) 2333, which included the council’s committee on social services among the members of the scholarship committee.

The committee is headed by Councilor Rodrigo Abellanosa, owner of Asian College of Technology (ACT), which is one of the school-beneficiaries of the scholarship program of the City Government.

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In his two-page veto message, the mayor said Section 4 of the ordinance is “ultra vires” or beyond the council’s authority.

It said the ordinance violates the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 6713, otherwise known as the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

Section 3 of RA 6713 provides that “conflict of interest arises when a public official or employee is a member of a board, an officer, or a substantial interest in a business and that the interest of such corporation and business, or his rights therein, may be opposed to or affected by the faithful performance of official duty.”

“Section 4 is inconsistent with public policy… considering the fact that the current chairman of the social services committee is the owner and one of the major institutions accredited under the current scholarship program of the City which this
particular ordinance intends to institutionalize,” said Rama.

Abellanosa, who is one of the proponents of the ordinance, has said his chairmanship in the social services committee is temporary and he is serving his last term as city councilor.

Conflict of interest

In order for Section 4 of the ordinance to be valid, Section 9 of RA 6713 provides that a public official should resign from his position in any private business enterprise when a conflict of interest arises, Rama said.

The same rule shall apply where the public official or employee is a partner in a partnership, the law said.

“In the interest of transparency and in order not to become prejudicial to the interest of the public, the ordinance should avoid any room for abuse and should level the playing field among interested schools,” Rama said.

The mayor also told the council to include in the ordinance a provision that will set a stricter guideline as to the number of city scholars that the school has to accept.

Rama learned that Abellanosa’s ACT has an estimated 20,000 scholars while the other schools accredited by the City for the scholarship program only has at least 1,000.

Last Aug. 8, the council passed the scholarship ordinance, sponsored by Abellanosa, Vice Mayor Joy Augustus Young, Councilors Margarita Osmeña, Alvin Dizon and Ronald Cuenco.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 25, 2012.

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