Zafra 'to stay as ex-officio councilor' | SunStar

Zafra 'to stay as ex-officio councilor'

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Zafra 'to stay as ex-officio councilor'

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Not going anywhere. Ex-officio Councilor Philip Zafra looks like he's had the last laugh after defending his stay in the council, which had been questioned by an opposition member. (SunStar Foto/Allan Defensor)

CEBU City Councilor Sisinio Andales  would have wanted Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) president Philip Zafra to vacate his seat as ex-officio member of the City Council.

In a privilege speech during yesterday's regular session, Andales said that Zafra lacks the authority to continue performing his duties as his term may have already expired following a memorandum issued by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), dated Sept. 6.

The DILG said that Republic Act (RA) 10923, or the law that postponed the October 2016 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, directed the hold-over of all incumbent barangay officials, without similar extension on their ex-officio representation at the municipal, city and provincial councils.

DILG also quoted Section 494 of RA 7160, or the Local Government Code of 1991.

Section 494 provides that duly elected presidents of the liga at the municipal, city and provincial levels, including component cities and municipalities of Metro Manila, shall serve as ex-officio members of the sanggunian.

"They shall serve as such only during their term of office as presidents of the liga chapters, which in no case shall be beyond the term of office of the sanggunian concerned," reads a portion of Section 494.

Andales, a lawyer, lamented that Zafra, as president of the ABC, may no longer sit as ex-officio member of the council.

He said Zafra's term already expired last June 2016, or at the time when the 13th Sangguniang Panlungsod assumed office.

"The term of office of the sangguinan for which he was an ex-officio member already terminated last June 30, 2016," Andales said.

But Councilor Jose Daluz III, Zafra's ally in the opposition, pointed out that a Supreme Court (SC) decision on the same issue was penned by former chief justice Hilario Davide Jr. in November 1993 in the case of Raul dela Rosa vs Eudarlio Valencia, G.R. 109455.

Daluz, who is also a lawyer, said that in one of the ruling's discussion, the SC said that there is no law that prohibits the ABC from holding over as member of the sanggunian bayan.

He added that on the contrary, the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) prepared by the oversight committee upon specific mandate of Section 533 of the Local Government Code recognizes the authority to ABC presidents.

Daluz said that pertinent provisions of paragraphs b and f of Article 210 of the IRR read that incumbent presidents of the liga should continue to serve as ex-officio member of the sanggunian office concerned, until expiration of term of office, unless sooner removed.

"In this case, there is an exemption. Their term has not yet expired. It will expire on Oct. 30, 2017. However, there is another extension. The election has been postponed, so their term has not yet expired. If their term has not yet expired, they have a hold-over capacity as ex-officio," Daluz said.

Zafra, for his part, stood pat that he is still a member of the council since DILG has not given any directive for the ABC officials to vacate their position.

He said that a memorandum dated Sept. 10 from the Liga ng mga Barangay sa Pilipinas directed all chapters not to hold any elections unless and until the Liga, through the national executive board, makes an announcement and authorizes the holding of polls.

"I am not declining from vacating my seat, but I'm just following the right conduct. It's not us, barangay officials, who are seeking extension of office, but the law itself. I maintain that I am still an an ex-officio member of the council," Zafra said.

After a close to 30-minute discussion, Andales moved to withdraw his motion.

Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on September 27, 2017.

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