DAVAO City Mayor Sara Duterte branded as "out of line" the questions raised by members of the City Council to lawyer Zuleika Lopez during deliberation on her appointment as city administrator.
In a radio interview Wednesday morning, Mayor Duterte said the line of questioning by the members of the City Council on Lopez were not in line with the purpose of the deliberation that is to determine if Lopez passed through the mandated qualifications.
"Napansin man gud nako didto na ang mga pangutana wala na nagpatch sa mga qualifications na ginarequire sa Local Government Code. Under sa balaud, over qualified gyud sya," the young Duterte said.
Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, however, said Lopez's previous posts in government do not qualify her to become city administrator. Councilors Melchor Quitain and Jimmy Dureza also took turns in grilling Lopez that lasted for one hour and fifteen minutes.
Lopez was a graft investigator at the Office of the Ombudsman and was a City Council secretary before Mayor Duterte appointed her as city administrator. Lopez also previously worked as information officer at the University of Philippines-Mindanao.
Vice Mayor Duterte said the post of a city administrator requires managerial or administrative experience in government for at least five years. He said Lopez's previous posts do not convert into managerial or administrative position.
In the end, the City Council decided to defer Lopez's appointment.
The mayor also withdrew Wednesday her request to members of the City Council to give their blessing to her appointment of Lopez and Robert Alabado as city administrator and City Planning and Development Office officer-in-charge, respectively.
In a formal statement, the mayor called the grilling of Lopez during the City Council session as "unfortunate," She, however, expressed that she is "happy the incident happened as it would prove the City Hall is not a rubber stamp of the City Council."
"I am formally withdrawing the request for concurrence of the positions of city administrator and City Planning and Development coordinator, these positions are now vacant. I have appointed Atty. Zuleika Lopez and Mr. Robby Alabado to other positions and since they are competent and qualified," Duterte said through e-mail.
Duterte said she has appointed Lopez to the position of acting city administrator, while Alabado is appointed to the position of acting City Planning and Development coordinator.
Wait and see
However, Duterte emphasized earlier that such move does not equate to backing out.
"We will gather all the documents to support the qualifications of Attorney Lopez. We'll just wait and see," Duterte said through text.
Duterte also supported Lopez and her decision to appoint her as the city administrator.
"If there are policies that are executive in nature carried out by Atty. Lopez, these are clearly lawful and under the powers and duties as administrator which does not affect her qualifications. Moreover, complaints about work ethics are common in all offices and a concurrence hearing is not the venue for this issue," Duterte said.
"I already said I do not want a city administrator who is a politician. This aspect is best left for my office. As a politician, my everyday mantra is: I cannot please everybody but I will try my hardest to do so," Duterte said.
Duterte also attached Lopez's curriculum vitae, which detailed Lopez's work experience with the provision from the Local Government Code on the qualifications of the city administrator. (Jade C. Zaldivar and Ben O. Tesiorna)