Seares: Ex-councilor Aven Piramide offers to codify Cebu City’s more than 2,000 ordinances, under 10 subjects, for P10M. City Council project in 2007 collated, classified local laws but didn’t produce codes.

Contributed photos
Contributed photos

THE Cebu City Council attempted to codify its ordinances in 2007, holding discussion in October of that year. The project resulted in collating and classifying the ordinances, with a retrieval program, but apparently didn’t produce actual codes.

Now, almost 16 years later, the Sanggunian is picking up the initiative to join Cebu Province and Mandaue City and a few other local governments that have already codified their ordinances.

2023 OFFER. Codifying ordinances is organizing and recording all permanent ordinances adopted by local legislature into a code book, with the laws grouped by subject. Former Cebu City councilor Avenescio Piramide, running for congressman in 2022, pitched during the campaign his skill to codify ordinances, among his qualifications to the House seat for the city’s north district. Codification, he said then, is “putting together the laws under the topic to which it belongs, arranging the ordinances for easy access and quick reference.”

Last March 15 (2023), Piramide appeared, on motion of Majority Floor Leader Jocelyn Pesquera, before the City Council to talk about his proposal to codify the city’s ordinances

Piramide -- veteran law practitioner and law professor, author and newspaper columnist, on top of his experience as codifier of ordinances of a number of LGUs in the country -- said he’d codify more than 2,000 Cebu City ordinances, assigning them under different subjects, and in 18 months or one year and a half produce physical and digital copies of each code. He said he’d draft “about 10 codes,” without specifying subjects yet. The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), he said, lists and recommends 19 topics.

YEARS TO BE COVERED. Not yet taken up between the Sanggunian and whoever would be the contractor is scope of the work in terms of years during which the ordinances were passed. The 2007-2008 project reportedly covered ordinances from 1945 up to the present although no news in digital archives reported the actual scope, targeted and accomplished.

Asked by Councilor Francis Esparis, Piramide said he’s asking P10 million for the work, paid in installments “depending on production” (“no payment until a code is delivered”). Vice Mayor and Presiding Officer Raymond Alvin Garcia said the city’s policy on infrastructure projects -- though he doesn’t know if that also applies to special services such as codifying ordinances -- is 15 percent mobilization and the balance upon completion.

Other takeaways from the project, as gathered from Piramide’s replies to my questions:

[1] Will codification include reconciling or tagging ordinances that overlap or contradict one another?

I call this aspect of the work HARMONIZING (caps by Piramide). Efforts will be exerted to reconcile contradicting provisions, bearing in mind the principle on general statutory construction: that a later law intends to modify, amend or repeal a prior law.

[2] Does the codifier correct, or at least tag, errors of grammar or syntax?

All ordinances are products of an authorized assembly of men and women. The codifier will use extreme efforts to keep the original language. But errors in grammar will have to be corrected without changing the context.

[3] What did the City Council attempt in 2007-2008 to codify city ordinances accomplish?

There was NO codification project before. Well, there was such a project but the best that was done was the collation, then classification.

[4] Will there be a public bidding on the contract, since the job obviously requires special skills?

I recommended a bidding: first, to comply with the Procurement Law and second, to avoid public distrust. I just hope that the Bids and Awards Committee will write some qualifications of bidders to approximate special skills.

[5] Each code will still be approved by the City Council. What changes to the original ordinance can they make?

The work of the contracted codifier is at best only a draft. He’s not a member of the City Council. When the councilors tackle the draft, they can do anything with it.

[6] From your review of ordinances produced by a number of local legislatures, what have you seen as the common deficiency or failing of the approved ordinances?

The short regulatory ordinances “pwede na makapasar.” But many of the longer ordinances are haphazardly written. And there are, course, questions of wrong grammar here and there.

[7] As an experienced legislator yourself, tell how local legislators may improve their major product: the ordinances.

They should carefully research the subject they’d like to legislate on. They should get professional help in crafting the substance of the ordinance. They should get the assistance of someone to draft in a way that future readers may smile in appreciation upon reading.


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