Local legislator against mayor’s rep joining sessions

CEBU. Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes.
CEBU. Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes.File photo

A LOCAL legislator of Mandaue City has opposed the executive order (EO) issued by Mayor Jonas Cortes that authorizes the latter’s representative to attend the City Council’s regular sessions.

EO 12, which Cortes signed last Feb. 23, 2024, appointed City Administrator Jamaal James Calipayan, City Budget Officer Giovanni Tinaero, Business Process Licensing Office head Lizer Malate and/or City Legal head John Eddu Ibañez to be his proxy.

According to Section 10, paragraph (h) of Republic Act 5519, or the Charter of the City of Mandaue City, the mayor can attend, “if he wishes to do so, either in person duly authorized representative, the session of the City Council and participate in its discussions, but not to vote.”

During the council’s regular session on Monday, March 4, 2024, City Councilor Joel Seno said the move is unconstitutional, as it encroaches on the council’s powers.

Seno emphasized the importance of recognizing the distinct powers of the City Council and the mayor as the executive chief.

He cited the Local Government Code (LGC) of 1991, which states that the power of a city mayor is limited to the proposal and initiation of legislative matters.

He said the mayor is not authorized to participate in the discussions of the council, as this can potentially lead to a constitutional crisis.

City mayor’s functions

According to Article 2, Section 456 of the LGC, a city mayor has the authority to exercise control and supervision over all programs, projects, services, and activities of the city government. This includes ensuring that all laws and ordinances related to the governance of the city are enforced. Additionally, the mayor can implement all approved policies, programs, projects, services and activities of the city, and generate resources and revenues to fund the implementation of development plans, program objectives and priorities.

The mayor also has the responsibility to ensure the delivery of essential services and the provision of appropriate facilities as mandated by Section 17 of the Code.

Also, the mayor may exercise other powers and fulfill other duties and functions as prescribed by law or ordinance.

“That is tantamount to an ultra vires act (beyond the powers). And as I mentioned the powers of the city mayor are very specific under the Local Government Code. That is why it is specific because (this is) under the principle of canalizing within banks to keep it from overflowing,” Seno said on Cortes’ EO.

The local legislator clarified that while the council’s regular session is open to the public, only council members are allowed to participate in the discussion.

Non-members may be allowed to participate, but only as resource persons during preliminary matters.

He explained that proposing and initiating a measure is part of the powers of a city mayor under the LGC. However, discussions of committee reports, which the council does, are solely the domain of the council.

Seno said that while the council can request non-members to participate, they are only allowed to answer questions.

He said the LGC supersedes, amends or repeals any provision that is inconsistent with its own provisions.

EO 12’s purpose

In an interview on Monday, City Administrator Calipayan dismissed Seno’s allegations that the EO is unconstitutional and encroaches on the council’s powers as “flimsy” reasons.

He said Seno should have stated his proper objection and not cited constitutional issues that are not true.

He said the EO was issued to improve the relationship between the City’s executive branch and the legislative branch.

He said the executive supports most of the council’s agenda.

He explained that the executive usually asks for a resource person to clarify certain matters.

“To facilitate that there is no need for another agenda because the resource person will be called when in fact we are there and we know most of the endorsement of the city mayor to the Sangguniang Panlungsod,” said Calipayan.

He said EO 12 makes it easier to address any questions about an executive endorsement without having to wait for weeks, as it will prevent the proposal from being postponed until resource persons respond to queries.

Not a violation

Calipayan said the EO does not violate any laws. In case it does, he suggested seeking relief in courts.

He pointed out that non-council members can only participate in the discussion if recognized by the presiding officer.

Calipayan said the purpose of EO 12 is to help expedite council business.

He reiterated that any of the mayor’s four appointees, or a certain person with more knowledge on a specific agenda, can only join a session if recognized by the council.

While the council noted Seno’s objection, Calipayan said EO 12 will remain in effect. / HIC


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