AS THEY continue to struggle for the fourth district’s congressional seat, former Bogo mayor Celestino “Tining” Martinez III challenged his rival, Benhur Salimbangon, to show his performance in Congress.
“What bills have you passed?” Martinez said. “That’s one of the questions he should answer.”
Salimbangon continues to hold on as the district congressman, but Martinez believes that position is now his. The Supreme Court (SC) made an entry of judgment last Feb. 2, after it ruled that
Martinez won the 2007 congressional elections.
Salimbangon said the SC’s decision in favor of Martinez has not hurt his reelection bid for the May 2010 election. (He could no longer be reached for comment on Martinez’s question about his performance since 2007.)
But the website of the House of Representatives (www. congress.gov.ph) shows a list of at least 37 bills Salimbangon authored. The site also lists at least 78 bills where Salimbangon served as co-author.
A few of Salimbangon’s bills have been approved by the House, but are awaiting action by the Senate.
These include the declaration of Malapascua as an eco-tourism destination; the modernization of the Severo Verallo Memorial District Hospital; the reclassification of Bantayan, Daan-bantayan, Madridejos and Sta. Fe from “wilderness areas” to areas open for agricultural, commercial, residential or tourism development; and a franchise to operate a greyhound racetrack in Mandaue City.
Salimbangon, in an earlier interview, said he will not focus on their dispute anymore because the battle is now at the SC.
“My work in the district is more important. If he (Tining) is indeed the duly elected congressman, his name and not mine should have been called in the roll call (on the last day of session last Feb. 3),” Salimbangon earlier said.
The Office of the Solicitor-General (OSG) has a pending motion for an oral argument and another motion for clarification on the SC ruling in favor of Martinez.
Salimbangon said he will only recognize Martinez as congressman if there is a writ of execution of the SC order and the latter takes oath before the plenary.
“Pabuhi sa dugo na lang nang iya (He just wants to keep his spirits up). Even if he continues to sit as congressman, the people already know that he is not a congressman,” Bogo City Mayor Celestino “Junie” Martinez Jr. said.
Tining’s father said that Salimbangon has “no moral ascendancy” to tell them to submit to the people’s will, when “he himself is not respecting the decision of the people in electing Tining as congressman.”
In an earlier interview, a Liberal Party (LP) official said the Martinez camp may file contempt charges against House Speaker Prospero Nograles.
Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya, LP secretary-general, reiterated Martinez should have taken his oath as congressman of Cebu Province’s fourth district, if not for a technicality.
Martinez, however, refused to say whether he will be taking action against Nograles.
“I would rather take the road of less conflict. Di ta mangita ug gubot (Let’s not look for trouble),” he told Sun.Star Cebu.
Armed with an entry of judgment from the Supreme Court, which declared him the winner of the fourth congressional seat in 2007, Martinez said there’s no need for the “purely ministerial” act of taking oath before the plenary.
Nograles, he said, followed procedure when he issued a letter to Salimbangon, informing the latter about the implementation of the SC order.
Abaya said Martinez can take his oath when Congress resumes session on May 31.
“By May 31, we will know who the elected congressman is. Due to technicality, he (Martinez) has not assumed his post,” Abaya said.