Seares: Ask if Tomas can legally do it | SunStar

Seares: Ask if Tomas can legally do it

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Seares: Ask if Tomas can legally do it

Monday, September 11, 2017

“I WILL not approve their consultancy because they are against me. Why will I let them work against me?”
-- Mayor Tomas Osmeña, quoted in a a Sept. 8, 2017 CDN news report

Councilors belonging to Barug Team Rama are asking if Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña is being fair in rejecting the hiring of consultants for their offices.

It’s clear that Mayor Tomas won’t be moved by the question of fairness. He could also throw the charge back by asking, “How about you, are you being fair in using your consultants against me?”

Anti-BRT vote

The councilors whose consultants are shunned, with their pay from July to December reportedly withheld, are against him and his administration, he said. They voted against the Bus Rapid Transit, his pet project. And most probably would go on fighting against him until the next election.

Fairness? Not a factor in his decision. Not much of an influence on public opinion.

Councilor’s stand

What they may wish to find out is whether the mayor can legally do it. Can he selectively approve or dump a consultant’s contract on the basis of the councilor’s vote on proposals submitted to the City Council?
Each councilor is supposed to have a party stand; he votes according to the decision of his party--or he goes rogue or independent or he defects.

And a consultant is a requirement of his office, to assist and advice on legislative work. Besides, if the work tool is given to other councilors, he cannot be discriminated against or harassed for a personal or partisan reason.

DILG ruling

DILG or Department of Interior of Local Government earlier gave the opinion that when the fund that pays the personnel of City Council (or Municipal Council or Provincial Board) was allotted for the legislative body, the authority to hire belongs to the vice mayor (or vice governor).

That’s how the office of the president interpreted the law when on Dec. 17, 2012 then executive secretary Paquito Ochoa suspended governor Gwen Garcia for nullifying contracts for consultants and casual employees hired by the vice governor.

Not his politics

If Barug councilors haven’t noticed it yet, the mayor has been using the “scorched-earth,” “hold-no-prisoner” policy since Councilor Margot Osmeña assumed as acting mayor and Tomas took over as regular mayor last year.
The battle for the next election has begun as early as then.

Ask not about fairness. Voters won’t mind how the mayor wages his politics, only whether the city is run badly or well.

Excess or abuse

Check the facts and the law. Has Mayor Osmeña exceeded his legal authority in rejecting consultants for councilors he dislikes?

You have seen the number of local officials who were suspended or kicked out for excess or abuse of power, some even for simply not following the law.

Forget fairness, for now.

Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on September 11, 2017.

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