Seares: 6 deputy mayors; 2 acting mayors

WHEN Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña announced on his first day as newly elected mayor that he was entrusting executive functions to six BOPK councilors, that didn't surprise anyone.

He had done that in his previous terms, tearing down the legal-fiction wall between executive and legislative, a precept mostly observed in the national government.

What raised eyebrows though was his naming them "deputy mayors." The city administrator or manager is sometimes called "little mayor" but that name, or the title "deputy mayor," is not in the statute books.

Tomas's deputy mayors reportedly will review proposals from the City Council. Another layer to bureaucracy but if the mayor can ask people to study resolutions and ordinances he has to OK or reject, why not tap his own councilors?

There are people who inhabit corridors of power without being publicly known. They influence decision makers: advisers, friends, the wife. Why not elected councilors? As long as they enjoy just the title and the ego trip but with no extra pay.

Anyway the mayor decides and answers for consequences of their advice.

Law specific

But having two acting mayors when the mayor is out of the country is entirely different situation. The law is clear about having only one acting mayor. No such thing as co-mayors, acting or permanent, or is there?

In a July 21 memo, before the Osmeña couple left for Japan, Tomas jointly designated Vice Mayor Edgar Labella and City Administrator Veronica Morelos as acting mayors.

Labella didn't need the memo on taking over. The law operates automatically. And never mind the warning in that memo. What sticks out like an ugly body part was the naming of a co-acting mayor.

Morales has her job; so has Labella. And they can coordinate with each other, as a mayor does with his city manager and vice versa. But not as co-mayors.

(paseares@gmail.com)
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