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Thursday, January 24, 2019

Seares: No Soca? Mayors required by law

MANDAUE City Mayor Luigi Quisumbing gave his state-of-the-city address (Soca) last Friday, Oct. 7. Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña has not given his report yet and won't deliver any.

Does the Soca depend on the mayor's discretion?

His "powers, duties and functions" to exercise general supervision and control of the city under the Local Government Code require the mayor to present (1) a program of government and (2) policies and projects to the City Council at the regular session's opening each year or as often as may be needed.

Soca is provided by law and kept by tradition. It's separate from the mayor's other duty to propose legislative measures. The law uses the mandatory "shall": it can't be done away with on whim or caprice.

He may reset date, expand or limit audience, or scrap ceremony and just give his report minus the the speech-making. The essential job is to give that law-mandated situationer/planner, on cold paper if not in a stirring speech.

There's a valid reason. The City Council needs to consider the mayor's "program of government" and "proposed policies" for the year. Some blueprint or roadmap, aside from the hodgepodge of projects the mayor may submit the rest of his term. And constituents would like to hear the report too.

Note the words "consider" and "proposed," meaning the City Council has to approve the plans. The mayor doesn't decide alone. He cannot act as if his word were the sole law.

Joint power

It's a joint exercise of power, with check and balance, veto or veto override. The mayor doesn't scrap or set up projects unilaterally, with the City Council shut out of the decision process.

Mayor Osmeña was quoted as saying he doesn't know his accomplishments and prefers the people to judge them instead of rating himself in a Soca.

That doesn't wash. The law requires plans, not a listing of what he has done or undone so far.

(paseares@gmail.com)
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