BARUG Team Rama has already said it won’t make any move to assert control of the Cebu City Council, which will primarily involve wresting chairmanships of important committees from its rival BOPK. As of today, BOPK controls 23 of 24 standing committees.
Barug doesn’t have the force, specifically the number equired for an overhaul of the City Council.
BOPK held that edge last July when the numbers stood at 9-7. On July 25, Vice Mayor Edgar Labella blocked Council Margot Osmeña’s revamp bid by contending that the numbers were only 9-8 in BOPK’s favor and 10 was the minimum required. In his count, Labella included himself when he should only be counted for determining quorum, not majority.
[Read “Labella must be impartial (1 & 2), July 13 & 14, 2017, News Sense.]
With the local DILG’s ruling, which apparently relied on Supreme Court decisions, Team Rama acceded to the reorganization last July 25.
Succeeding movements in the City Council, however, wiped out BOPK’s lead. With Hanz Abella’s exit and Junjun Osmeña taking his place, it’s now 8-8. BOPK has the edge, as it has VM Labella as tiebreaker, but Barug still doesn’t have the “simple majority.”
Not two-thirds vote
There are people who think that revamp of the City Council, outside its inaugural session “following election or at the first opportunity after assumption of office,” may be done only by a two-thirds vote. Maybe not. The City Council’s house rules provide that when the law or the rules are silent as to the vote required, “majority of the members present, there being a quorum” is enough to pass it.
That may even be less than the so-called “simple majority,” which Labella used, citing the Supreme Court, in initially opposing Councilor Margot’s revamp. Unlike “simple majority,” which counts all the members minus the VM, what’s required by City Council house rules is only majority of the members present in a quorum. At least, according to the 2010 City Council’s house rules: Art. X, section 10, last paragraph. (Has it been amended?)
Tilting the balance
If dismissed Councilor James Cuenco’s seat is filled (under the law, by a Barug member), that will tilt the balance at 9-8 in its favor. But the case having been raised by Cuenco to higher courts, it takes time, maybe all the way to the next elections, before James returns or the vacancy is deemed permanent and the replacement made.
So Team Rama will not seek changes in the City Council. It cannot. For now at least. Besides, despite the trace of sour-graping, there’s not much that Team Rama councilors can do even if they rule the committees, not with a hostile and combative mayor at City Hall’s helm.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on December 19, 2017.
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