Historic gang of four in Cebu City Council

WITH only four members including the acting vice mayor, the Cebu City Council made history yesterday as it held the first Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) session in the country with fewer than half of its members present.

Yesterday’s session was also the first the council had after Malacañang suspended 14 of the city officials.

Present were presiding officer and acting vice mayor Lea Japson, Councilors Richard Osmeña, James Cuenco and Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) Chief Philip Zafra.

Although it was her first time to preside a Council session, Japson, in a phone interview with Sun.Star Cebu yesterday, said it was no different from a barangay session.

“I’ve served five years as barangay captain and have presided sessions there and the same procedures apply in both. The only difference I could see is that the venue in the City Hall is bigger,” she said.

Japson was the village chief of Barangay Banilad before being elected as City councilor in 2010.

She is also serving her last term, which will end at noon of June 30.

Depending on the number of items tackled, a regular session usually takes around a whole day. Called to order at 9:10 a.m, the Council session adjourned at 9:35 a.m. yesterday, making it the shortest in recent memory, lasting only for 25 minutes.

Despite a seven-page agenda, the session ran smoothly, with each item not taking more than two minutes of discussion.

Asked about the 25-minute session, Japson said that although it was unusual, she was not “shocked” at all because she and the other members already had a caucus days before the session.

“In the first place, we already knew what to do and how to discuss the agenda. A 14-item agenda is actually too short for a Council session,” she said.

Japson, however, pointed out that the items would be better discussed if the Council was complete.

“If there are more councilors, there will be more ideas. After all, more heads are better than one. We could have collated ideas together,” she said.

Apart from Japson, Cuenco and Zafra also sat as presiding officers in separate points when amendments on their authored resolutions and ordinances were made.

Cuenco took over Japson when nine of her proposed resolutions were moved for approval.

Zafra, on the other hand, took over Cuenco when amendments were made on his proposed revision of the annual budget.

A public hearing usually takes place during a Council session but there was none scheduled yesterday.

Although a regular session is scheduled for next week, no executive session will follow as it usually does.

There was also no executive session yesterday.
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