DURING the 9th regular session of the City Council last Monday presided over by City Councilor Rocky Thomas A. Balisong as acting presiding officer the confirmation of the appointment of Ms. Cordelia C. Lacsamana as the City Environment and Parks Management Officer of the City Environment and Parks Management Office (Cepmo) was again deferred for the third time.

It can be recalled that Ms. Lacsamana was earlier appointed by the City Mayor as the new head of the Cepmo in accordance with the provisions of Republic Act 7160 otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991. However, the same law also provides that while the Mayor is empowered to appoint the City Council members have to concur by confirming the appointment.

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Letter “d” of Section 454, Chapter 2 Book III of the Local Government Code provides that “Unless otherwise provided herein, heads of departments and offices shall be appointed by the city mayor with the concurrence of the majority of all the City Council members, subject to civil service law, rules and regulations. The City Council shall act on the appointment within fifteen (15) days from the date of its submission, otherwise the same shall be deemed confirmed.”

During the discussion City Councilor Perlita Chan Rondez pointed out that the appointment papers and other supporting documents of Ms. Lacsamana was already submitted as early as March 8, 2010 with the City Council for its consideration and action, and counting from the above date the period for the council to act on the appointment has already lapsed or prescribed.

On the other hand, a counter argument that was offered was that the decision to defer the matter constitutes an action by the council and tolls the prescription of the period.

With no definitive interpretation of the aforementioned provision of the law, City Councilor Richard Carino moved to once more defer the confirmation of Ms. Lacsamana pending the obtention of a legal opinion on the interpretation of the fifteen days period for the council to act on appointments.

Likewise, during the discussion on the appointment of Ms. Lacsamana the former was invited, under suspension of rules, to clarify some ticklish issues pertaining to her office. Among the issues raised is the apparent non-reply or delay in the manner of Ms. Lacsamana answering text messages or calls made by some city councilors to her. City Councilor Elaine Sembrano candidly chided Ms. Lacsamana for failing to answer the former’s calls or even replying by text message. The same sentiments was aired by other councilors to which Ms. Lacsamana offered her apologies saying that during those times she might have been attending meetings or giving lectures and that she would do better the next time.

As far as the Cepmo office is concerned there are serious apprehensions that whoever will be appointed as the head of that office will have a pretty difficult time in effectively dispensing the job considering the almost impossible task of finding a permanent solution to the garbage problem in the City. While there is no doubt that Ms. Lacsamana as Cepmo head has already done a yeoman’s job of implementing various directives the discovery of a permanent solution to the problem still seems to be far beyond the horizon. Because of this predicament critics of the local government are having a heyday in lambasting the city particularly Cepmo for imagined or real failures. For Ms. Lacsamana it seems to have become a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation.

On the other hand, City Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda gave a totally different opinion on the appointment of Ms. Lacsamana stating that she favors allowing the next mayor free hand in appointing the next head of the Cepmo.

Meanwhile, the City Council was able to approve twenty nine items out of seventy three items in the agenda to include seven matters included during suspension of the rules.

Among those approved on first reading is a substituted proposed ordinance emanating from the Committee on Ethics, governmental Affairs and Personnel entitled “Granting a living price escalation incentive benefits to all employees of the City Government of Baguio” in lieu of the proposed resolution earlier filed by City Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda for the granting of a quarterly rice allowance as part of the poverty alleviation program to all employees of the City Government of Baguio. Also approved on first reading is the proposed ordinance for the re-alignment in the amount of 3.8 million pesos earlier earmarked for three bioreactors to a complete Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) at the Tabora Park along Lower Magsaysay Avenue complete with shade, composting machines, motor vehicle for delivery and equipments.

The City Council also approved the recommendation of the Committee on health and Sanitation, Ecology and Environmental Protection. Handicapped and Differently Able Persons to forward to the Technical Working Group of the Solid Waste Management Board the draft of the “Heads of Agreement for Waste Processing Service Contract between Waste to Energy (Asia Pacific) Pty Ltd. Represented by Mr. Rob Rutherford, Chief executive Officer and Baguio City, represented by Hon. City Mayor Reinaldo A. Bautista Jr. in relation to the implementation of the International Environmental Solutions (IES) Advanced Pyrolytic System (APC) in the Philippines. The committee has been given seven days upon which to submit a report to obtain their recommendation and comments on the matter.

Finally, two resolutions of condolences were passed one “expressing the deepest sympathy and heartfelt condolences of the officialdom and constituency of the City of Baguio to the bereaved family, relatives and friends of the late City Planning and Development Coordinator, Baguio City, Mr. Arturo L. Orig.” The other is “expressing and extending deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences to the family and relatives of the late Punong Barangay Jose N. Abrera of A. Bonifacio Barangay with sincere gratitude to Hon. City Mayor Reinaldo A. Bautista Jr., members of the Baguio City Council, Col. Don Daquial of the Action league of Indigenous Masses and others who have given support and donations.”