Issue on quorum triggers tension at council session

TENSION rose during the Cebu City Council’s first session for this year after some councilors argued about the quorum.

The minority bloc was also hit for taking over the session hall last Dec. 29 and 30 and for ordering the “arrest” of the majority bloc members for the special session intended to discuss the P2.8-billion first supplemental budget of 2015.

At the start of the session yesterday morning, majority floor leader Councilor Margarita Osmeña moved to have the resumption of the Dec. 16 regular session approved.

Councilor Gerardo Carillo, however, pointed out that the record stated there are nine councilors, all members of the majority bloc, present when the attendance for the session was called and the secretariat said there was already a quorum.

Carillo said there should be 10 councilors before a quorum (50 percent plus one) is declared, considering that there are 18 seats in the council.

Councilor Sisinio Andales, though, said there are only 17 members of the council, considering that Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella is serving as acting mayor since Mayor Michael Rama is serving his 60-day suspension.

Councilor Alvin Arcilla then asked the secretariat who were absent when the Dec. 16 session was held.

The secretariat said they were Councilors James Cuenco, Richard Osmeña, Philip Zafra and Dave Tumulak.

Arcilla went on to ask who were late in the session. The secretariat said they were Councilors Carillo, Noel Wenceslao and Hanz Abella.

“So it is not our fault if you are late,” Arcilla then said in gist.

But this irked Carillo. He then stood from his seat and went to Arcilla, pointed to him and told him that he should not use disrespectul language.
“You should extend respect to every member of the council,” he added.

Carillo went on to say that Arcilla, along with the other members of the majority bloc, were disrespectful to Acting Vice Mayor Nestor Archival Sr. after they snubbed the special session that the latter called on Dec. 29 and 30.

Before any more heated exchange ensued, Councilors Tumulak and Mary Ann de los Santos approached Carillo and Arcilla.

A few minutes later, Carillo apologized to the council and Arcilla for raising his voice.

As the session went on, Councilor Alvin Dizon delivered a privilege speech to asked the members of the legislative body to be more circumspect in their actions.
Dizon said he was “humiliated” and “hurt” when they were ordered arrested last Dec. 29 and 30 to discuss the SB 1.

“It’s as if I have committed a crime, thus an arrest order was deemed necessary. It’s as if I have been remiss of my job as a city councilor, which official records will deny. It’s as if I am always absent or silent during sessions, which I am absolutely not,” he added.

Dizon said before the start of the Christmas and New Year holidays, they were already informed that there will be many councilors who would not attend any more sessions.

He said the move to call a special session seemed to have been deliberately done to put some members in bad light.

Dizon then asked his colleagues to spare the public from making “unnecessary alarms” and to stop making any dramas.

“I call on my colleagues who were responsible for the Dec. 29 and 30 fiasco to be more circumspect in the council’s affairs, especially since their actions affect everyone in this very institution that they work for,” he said.

“Please do not pull your fellow councilors down simply because of partisan differences. By not losing our respect for one another, we will be able to show our people that we are public officials who are truly worth of emulation,” he added.

After Dizon’s speech, Carillo, who is the minority floor leader, said they only wanted to compel the other councilors, as provided under the Local Government Code, to attend the special session so the SB 1 will already be deliberated upon.

The SB 1, which is pending before the council, is supposed to pay the P2.4 billion remaining loan balance of the City for the South Road Properties, among others.

The majority bloc then asked the secretariat to give them copies of the minutes during the special session last Dec. 29 to 30 so they will be apprised on what has been discussed.
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