PAMPANGA

Zamora-Arceo: Eviction

ONE of the powers of the municipal mayor as stated under the Local Government Code (LGC) is to "allocate and assign office space to municipal and other officials and employees who, by law or ordinance, are entitled to such space in the municipal hall and other buildings owned or leased by the municipal government."

Meanwhile, eviction or demolition is allowed by law under the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992 but only under the following situations: (a) When persons or entities occupy danger areas such as esteros, railroad tracks, garbage dumps, riverbanks, shorelines, waterways, and other public places such as sidewalks, roads, parks, and playgrounds; (b) When government infrastructure projects with available funding are about to be implemented; or (c) When there is a court order for eviction and demolition."

What happened in Magalang town recently raised a lot of eyebrows. The brouhaha between the good Mayor Romy Pecson and Vice Mayor Norman Lacson ignited speculations that the two have a much deeper misunderstanding other than what is already obvious.

Pecson issued a memorandum order last November 12, asking the vice mayor to vacate his office at the first floor of the Legislative Hall in Magalang. He was given 72 hours to leave the premises. The local police and the DILG were given copies of the memorandum.

In a press statement, Lacson said he has been very cooperative with Pecson from Day 1 of their term at the municipal government. Despite coming from opposing camps during the last elections, Lacson said the Sangguniang Bayan was very supportive to the mayor.

He said the only reason he could think of why the mayor issued the memorandum was the incident that happened on November 11. When he was on his way out of the Legislative Hall, he said he saw two workers installing equipment at the Legislative Hall and he asked them if they have coordinated with the proper offices.

Lacson said he later found out that the workers were allegedly employees of a favored contractor close to Pecson.

"We are now on the 72nd hour and I called this press conference to prevent any untoward incident. I am staying in my office at the Legislative Building despite the eviction order of Mayor Romulo F. Pecson. While recognizing and not questioning his powers as cited in the memorandum, these powers are not absolute nor are meant to be exercised capriciously and with malice bordering on abuse of authority. It is my right and my responsibility to hold office in the legislative building as the Presiding Officer and Vice Mayor. It is an insult to the past and future honorable members of the Sangguniang Bayan to evict the Presiding Officer from his offices," Lacson said during a recent press conference.

Going back to the powers of the municipal mayors to designate offices for all the municipal employees, it was clearly stated that the person receiving the office for occupancy must be entitled.

In this case, of course the vice mayor is entitled especially so under the roof of the Legislative Hall. Now, the question -- is Mayor Pecson abusing his authority?

Is he going overboard on this situation? Was there a valid ground for the memorandum or a valid reason to kick out the vice mayor from the building? Maybe.

And far as the eviction policy is concerned, the situation does not fall under the circumstances provided by the law. Is the vice mayor squatting at the Legislative Hall? I think the answer is no. Is he an illegal occupant? Again, no.

So what is the reason then except for a deeper rift and political polarization that gravely affects the people of Magalang. This is not mentioning the possible disruption of public services caused by the ongoing fight between the mayor and the vice mayor.

A little piece of advice to Mayor Pecson -- no matter how you look at this situation, or in whatever angle you want to measure it, the end game will always be against him. Where does he expect the vice mayor to hold office then? At the streets of Magalang?

This will not hold water. Better talk and stop dividing the people of Magalang. Work together or else you will both finish your term with disgrace and disappointment.


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