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Saturday, August 24, 2019
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Seares: Appointments in Lapu-Lapu: Less of clannishness, more of politics

A FEW days after Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan assumed office and announced his possible key officials at City Hall, the mayor he ousted, Paz Radaza, led the charge in trying to shoot down the appointments.

The objection: There were also qualified people in the city who will run the departments. Importing talent was an “insult” to Oponganons.

They withheld the plain but effective reason: The appointees didn’t meet the qualification of residence.

Almendras case

Four positions under the Local Government Code (LGC) of 1991 (Republic Act 7160) require legal residence in the local government, in this case Lapu-Lapu City: city administrator, city legal officer, city public information officer and city general services officer.

First set up at the firing range was Danilo Almendras, whom Mayor Ahong appointed last July 15 and the City Council rejected last Aug. 8. The LGC (in Section 454, letter “d”) provides that the mayor’s appointments of department heads shall be concurred by the majority of all the City Council members. The Almendras nomination was taken down with a seven-five-one vote. Clearly, Chan doesn’t have the numbers in the local legislature.

Technicality

But did it kill the appointment?

Not yet. First, on a technicality: the City Council failed to act on it within 15 days from the day it was submitted.

Chan’s camp says the failure deemed the appointment automatically approved. Instead of a certification of rejection, the mayor may submit to the Civil Service Commission the document attesting to the inaction, which the City Council issued last July 30.

Elements of ‘residence’

Even if the “sanggunian” rejected the nominee on time, the residence barrier is even easier to hurdle than that for people running for public office. You’ve seen how deftly a candidate establishes residence. The law’s definition is as faulty as can be: intent to stay and intent to return, the elements of “residence” the Supreme Court laid down have been easily overcome.

And unlike the election in which time is crucial in meeting the Comelec calendar, appointive officers like Almendras can be reappointed again until they qualify.

Political issue

He has already started, ah, residing in Basak, Lapu-Lapu. He can transfer Comelec registration to that place and soon he will meet the residence requirement. In sum, the bar is no barrier at all, just a political issue that may matter only if Lapu-Lapu folk are as clannish as Congresswoman Radaza wants them to be.

Are Opangonons really offended by the entry of the likes of Almendras, along with Allan James Sayson as city attorney, Oscar Pineda as PIO and Ronald Malacasa as general services officer? Do they resent outsiders taking over key jobs at City Hall?

Actual presence now

It’s a question of need and urgency for Chan. Apparently, he was unprepared for the job and didn’t have the people to make City Hall run and hum. He has to have people he can trust, even if it means bringing them in from outside the city.

Besides the qualification is met if the appointee actually resides in the city once he assumes the job. The actual presence now, to attend to his work, is what is important to the city and its residents.

Almendras comes with impressive credentials: as former city administrator of A-1 local governments (Mandaue City and Cebu City) and as DILG director).

He is not a native of Lapu-Lapu. The law requires actual residence, which he can do now, not roots in the land where Magellan’s blood flowed.


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