Mayor should let his signature stay-A A +A
Thursday, August 9, 2012
CHIEF executives, whether in the public or private sector, are busy people. They don’t have time to examine in detail every transaction brought before them for approval or to read the fine print of every document waiting on his desk for their signature. They have to rely on their subordinates.
Even the Supreme Court recognizes that, enunciating the so-called “Arias doctrine” which says that you cannot hold a head of office criminally liable as a co-conspirator in an unlawful transaction on the sole ground that he affixed his signature without going deeper into the details.
We would be setting a bad precedent, said the Court, if a head of office “who is plagued by all too common problems is suddenly swept into a conspiracy conviction simply because he did not personally examine every single detail, painstakingly trace every step from inception, and investigate the motives of every person involved in the transaction before affixing his signature as the final approving authority.”
But while the Arias doctrine is an effective defense in a criminal prosecution, it is unavailable when addressing a potentially explosive political issue. Unless, as alleged by his city administrator, a “golden hand” did forge Mayor Mike Rama’s signature on the silly South Road Properties (SRP) ordinance that he had earlier vowed to veto, criminal law was not involved in the transaction. Rather, it was Murphy’s Law in motion: if anything can go wrong, it will.
Mike has ordered an investigation to determine why and how he ended up approving the ordinance. In the meantime, he has formally informed the city council that he was vetoing it, explaining that such was his intention from the very beginning.
The veto message in effect sought to withdraw Rama’s approval, which he initially explained was by inadvertence, of the ordinance. Whether or not a mayor can do that is a very good legal question but while I am for enriching Philippine jurisprudence, I think that, in the end, it would just be a waste of the mayor’s precious time.
It is a flawed ordinance. It does not create new rights or obligations. The prohibition against the sale by the mayor of the SRP lots without the consent of the city council is already addressed by the Local Government Code. And the ban on any auction of the lots is, at its very best, an invitation to a citation for contempt.
The ordinance made it appear that it was applicable to any Cebu City mayor but there is no doubt that it was directed at Rama. But instead of feeling annoyed and expressing it by vetoing the ordinance, Rama should join the charade by letting his signature stay. Then he can sing (he loves to sing, anyway) that “boys just wanna have fun” to explain the circuitous route that he has taken.
During my trip to and back from Boljoon during the weekend, I counted more than a hundred motorcycles whose riders were not wearing a helmet. Many of the bikes also didn’t have any registration plates.
The local police would have to be totally and absolutely blind not to notice these violations. I can understand why they’re lukewarm to the helmet law, if such were the case, but those unregistered motorcycles have no business being on the road. What gives? Where is the Land Transportation Office?
My own take on the helmet law is that if a person is willing and ready to commit suicide, we should let him, provided that he does not cause any damage or prejudice to another. Why should we be more concerned with a life than the one who owns it?
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 10, 2012.