April 18, 2024

The seven councilors of Baguio who brought Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan to court to stop him from implementing the reorganization of standing committees of the city council stood their ground by not submitting the names of members of the committees.

After the selection of committee chairmen, the next step will be for the chairmen to submit the names of members.

As of the Feb. 19 session of the city council, only the eight councilors who voted in favor of the reorganization submitted the names of their members.

Councilor Benny Bomogao, who was earlier selected to head the committee on public protection, safety, peace and order, has declined to head the committee.

At present, Bomogao and Councilor Leandro Yangot Jr. have no committees.

Olowan, who volunteered to chair the committee on ethics, governmental affairs and personnel for one week only reckoning from Feb. 12, has not opened nominations for three committees – including the committee on education, which is chaired by Councilor Vladimir Cayabas on a holdover capacity.

Olowan, however, repeatedly asked his colleagues to submit the names of members so the committees can function. He said their opposing views should not result in them shortchanging the public when matters referred to the committees cannot be acted upon because a committee has incomplete members.

He added representation of the city council to special bodies like the Local Zoning Board on Adjustments and Appeals and Baguio City Market Authority will be affected if they insist on a status quo.

Under the rules of the city council, one committee would need three members each. For a committee to act on referrals, at least two members are needed for a committee report to be acted by the city council en banc. Each councilor is also supposed to be a member in a maximum of three committees only.

“I am appealing to you. We cannot go back (to status quo). There are many referrals (in your committees). Please toe the line. Do your job,” Olowan said and suggested that pending court decision, they should function in their new committees.

Councilor Peter Fianza, one of the eight who voted to reorganize also appealed to his colleagues. “I join the call of the vice mayor. If there is a decision by the court then let us abide. But in the meantime, let us not leave things unacted. If the court says you win, then let’s undo (actions of the city council after reorganization),” Fianza said.

But at some point in the discussion, Olowan gave scathing remarks to his colleagues who were obstinate about their stand.

“Kapit-tuko kayo. The majority prevails,” Olowan told Councilor Mylen Yaranon who said she will continue to function as the chair of the committee on public works when she was already replaced by Councilor Isabelo Cosalan Jr.

Olowan also told Bomogao to return his salary if he is not accepting any committee, to which the latter replied he is still entitled to a salary, being an elected official. 

He gave the councilors until Thursday to submit the names of their members. On verification of the Midland Courier with the secretariat of Sangguniang Panlungsod, none of the seven have submitted the names of the members. A draft of the committees with a complete roster has been prepared by the secretariat but has not been released pending discussion of the same on the council’s session tomorrow, Feb. 26.    

Meanwhile, the Regional Trial Court Branch 5 has denied the petition for the issuance of status quo ante order. A status quo ante means retaining the state of affairs (prior to the reorganization).

In an order issued on Feb. 19, the court said just like its denial of the petition for issuance of a temporary restraining order, a status quo ante order cannot be issued as it cannot overturn an act made by the city council.

The main case that sought to determine how many constitute a majority vote is still with the court.

The councilors who petitioned the vice mayor are councilors Elmer Datuin, Mylen Yaranon, Betty Lourdes Tabanda, Vladimir Cayabas, Benny Bomogao, Leandro Yañgot Jr., and Rocky Aliping. – Rimaliza A. Opiña