MAYOR Sara Duterte said on Thursday she is not ruling out possibility that City Hall may no longer engage with the City Council.
Following the incident during City Council session, where her appointee lawyer Zuleika Lopez received "an undeserved treatment", Duterte said so long as the executive department does not need the concurrence of the legislative department on a certain policy, there will be no connection to be made.
"Kung wala koy ipadala sa ilaha (If I do not need to inform them on a matter) for their concurrence, they cannot do anything about it. Dili ko nila mapugos (They cannot force me)," Duterte said in an interview at the Bolton Elementary School where she led the turnover ceremony of treated curtains for public school classrooms.
Asked on whether this would affect the performance of both departments, Duterte opined this would not.
"Wala man siguro, the next amoang ipadala is for budget for next year and dugay pa man to (I don't think there would be significant changes, the next time we'd be sending something to them for concurrence would be for the budget next year and that's still a long time from now)," Duterte said.
Duterte on Wednesday announced she has decided to withdraw her request for concurrence from the City Council on her appointment of city administrator Leika Lopez and City Planning and Development Office (CPDO) officer in charge Roberto Alabado.
She also reappointed Lopez to the position of acting city administrator, while Alabado is appointed to the position of acting CPDO coordinator.
Duterte however said they will be gathering all the documents to support the qualifications of Lopez. "We'll just wait and see," Duterte said.
On July 27, Duterte sent a letter to the City Council on the matter in compliance with the provisions of the Local Government Code stating appointees of the City Mayor must receive the concurrence of the City Council.
During the Council plenary, Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte 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.
The Vice Mayor also grilled Lopez on issues that 1) her office was not 'open to all' as department heads allegedly has to make an appointment to her before meeting her; 2) Lopez allegedly made a statement directed at those who were removed from their position, saying they should not grumble 'as if she would not hear it'; 3) the halt in the construction of the batching plant in line with the delayed operations of the sanitary landfill of the city; and 4) the demotion of City Environment and Natural Resources Office head Engr. Jocelyn Espina.
"My objection is number one, the questions were not questions on qualifications of a city administrator. Number two, she (Lopez) did not deserve the treatment that was given to her on Tuesday," Mayor Duterte said.
"Wala mi nagkastorya ni mayor. Naa siya'y gipadala sa akoa nga messages pero (The mayor and I have not talked. He sent me messages but) I said, the position of city administrator is a position based on trust and confidence. Dili pwede ko diktahan kung kinsa ang dapat ibutang because its trust ang kinahanglan dinha eh (There should be no dictate on who I appoint there because the basis there is on trust and confidence)" she said.
The city mayor maintained that Lopez is qualified to be appointed as the City Administrator, thus her decision to re-appoint her as Acting City Administrator should not be a problem.
"She is a CESO, career executive service officer. This mean she is a career executive. And my point is, before I appointed her and before I sent to the City Council, I checked on the Civil Service Commission if she is qualified and they said she is. There (should be no problem because) she can hold the acting city administrator position because she is qualified," Duterte said.
Duterte said as acting city administrator, Lopez can still perform the duties and responsibilities of a city administrator given Duterte granted this scope of work.
"It depends on what I delegated to her as her duties and responsibilities but for all intends and purposes all that I delegated to her which can be done by a city administrator can be executed by a city administrator," Duterte said in vernacular.
"Yes she can (approve transactions involving funds). She can even direct career or plantilla personnel because she is qualified," Duterte added.
However, with her decision to withdraw her request for concurrence and reappointing Lopez to another position, Council Floor Leader Emmanuel Galicia gave his objection Wednesday, saying "this circumvents the law."
"I am not circumventing the law because I am not obligated to have an 'acting position' to have the concurrence of the Council. If you should know, there are a lot of 'acting positions', there's an acting city agriculturist, acting city planning officer, acting city administrator before attorney Lopez (Marcelina Escalada), and a lot of offices which only has OICs. Dili ko na buhaton kung kabalo ko nga iligal na siya (I would not do that if I know that's illegal," Duterte said.
Asked as to how long Lopez will remain as an acting city administrator, given she decides not to present Lopez for concurrence, Duterte said the law does not provide a limitation to how long a person can stay on an acting position.
"Walay naka-indicate ingana sa law nga naay time limit (The law does not specify a limit as to how long a person can be appointed to an acting position)" Duterte said.
Meanwhile, Duterte also recognized that there is a rift between Lopez and some department heads.
"Wala gyud actually specific nga rason. I heard nagtanggal siya ug tao sa iyang opisina but that is the prerogative of a department head sama nako. Ang mga tao nga nagtrabaho sa akoang opisina kaila nako (There's really no specific reason. I heard she removed a person from office but that's her prerogative as a department head. I too want that the people working in my office are a person I know).
"I heard nag-decline siya maghatag ug unnecessary requests and she referred it to my office because naa mi sabot nga tanan nga things involved in politics should be in my office not in the city administrator (I heard she declined some unnecessary requests and that she referred it to my office because we did agree that all things involving politics should be directed to my office and not in the city administrator's)" Duterte said.
This latest development has all the more fueled rumors that the father and daughter are at odds with each other but Duterte told Sun.Star Wednesday that her father simply could not lecture her that is why he vented his frustration on Lopez.
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. (JCZ)