VM Fernandez is acting mayor; Lim condition still undisclosed
DILG INVOKES LAW
VICE Mayor Belen Fernandez, the mayor-elect of Dagupan City following her victory in the May 13 elections, has assumed post as acting mayor last May 16 after outgoing Mayor Benjamin Lim suffered a stroke on May 12 and whose exact condition has remained undisclosed.
Joseph Apolonio, legal officer of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). Region 1, said Fernandez’s assumption of office is provided for under Section 46 of the Local Government Code.
“Her (Fernandez’s) assumption as acting mayor is in order (so as) not to disrupt public service,” Apolonio said.
“This is provided by law and no right is violated,” he added.
Section 46 of the Local Government Code, paragraph a) states that “when the governor, city or municipal mayor, or punong barangay is temporarily incapacitated to perform his duties for physical or legal reasons… the vice governor, city or municipal vice mayor, or the highest ranking sangguniang barangay member shall automatically exercise the powers and perform the duties and functions of the local chief executive concerned…”
Fernandez, for her part, said, “In order that public service will not be disrupted, the undersigned is mandated by law to assume the functions of a city mayor effective today until Mayor Benjamin S. Lim shall have reported back to office in accordance with law.”
HOW IS LIM?
City Hall and the Lim family were mum about the issue until reports spread over the media and text messaging that Lim has died while in transit from Dagupan to a hospital in Manila.
The news was prompted by the failure of Lim and his wife Celia, a candidate for congressman in the fourth district, to vote in their precinct at West Central Elementary School in Monday’s election.
A radio field report over station DWPR on election day indicated the mayor has died and this was reported the same night by radio station DZRD.
Lim’s son, Councilor Brian Lim, then issued a statement in his Facebook account denying his father’s death but confirming the stroke.
He explained that on the eve of the elections, his father forgot to take his diabetes medicines due to the rigors of the campaign and his blood sugar shot up and led to a stroke.
In a press statement issued on Wednesday, Brian Lim, who was proclaimed as vice mayor-elect of Dagupan City Tuesday, officially reiterated the same message and gave assurance that his father is in a stable condition but declined to disclose the whereabouts of the mayor.
MATA AT THE HELM
Prior to Fernandez’s assumption as acting mayor, Lim’s camp insisted that the mayor was simply on sick leave and City Administrator Vladimir Mata was running City Hall.
Mata himself said everything was going on smoothly and that he was signing the necessary papers while those he could not due to limitations under the law were being sent to the mayor in Manila.
Mata also assured that Lim will be back in a few days to work to finish his term until June 30.
Fernandez invoked Sec. 46 of the Local Government Code with the go-signal of the DILG three days after the mayor has not returned to his office.
Newsmen and the public in Dagupan have been clamoring that the Lim family show proof of the mayor’s real condition.
Meanwhile, the City Board of Canvassers headed by City Election Officer Erickson Organisa proclaimed Fernandez as the newly elected mayor of Dagupan City before noon Tuesday.
She beat Lim by more than 4,00 votes based on the results from 125 electoral precincts in 31 barangays. .
“What I promised you in the campaign, I will do more than that,” said Fernandez to her cheering supporters after her proclamation.
Her proclamation was attended by former Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., his wife re-elected Fourth District Congresswoman Gina de Venecia, former Dagupan Mayor Alipio Fernandez Jr., former Vice Governor Gonzalo T. Duque and former Vice Mayor Teodoro Manaois III and supporters.
Rep. De Venecia vowed that she and Fernandez “will restore the golden age of Dagupan”, referring to the time when Alipio Fernandez was mayor former Speaker Venecia was congressman of the 4th District.
Fernandez garnered 43,839 votes as against Lim’s 39,735 votes.
Brian Lim, meanwhile, prevailed against Michael Fernandez.
The proclaimed winners for councilors are: re-electionists Maybelyn Fernandez, Karlos Reyna III, Alfie Fernandez, Jeslito Seen, Alvin Coquia, Marvin Fabia, Jesus Canto, Red Erfe Mejia, Jose Netu Tamayo and Guillermo Vallejos.—with report from Eva Visperas
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