Dagupan SP majority members “disapprove, delete” session’s minutes
AFTER THE FEB 7 WALKOUT
THE members of the majority in the Dagupan Sangguniang Panlungsod set another unprecedented action last Tuesday, February 14, never seen or done by any legislative body in the country, when they voted not only to disapprove the minutes but to delete the entire proceedings of the February 7, 2023 regular session.
Reason? They maintained that there were no discussions to be acknowledged in that session because when they walked out, automatically there was no quorum even if Vice Mayor Bryan Kua, presiding officer, allowed the discussions to continue.
February 7 was the day Mayor Belen Fernandez appeared before the city council and pleaded for the passage of the annual city budget and all its integral plans, including the annual investment program for 2023.
The motion to disapprove and delete the whole proceedings was made by Councilor and Majority Leader Librada Reyna-Macalanda and was seconded by Councilor Alfie Fernandez but it was the latter who explained the reasons behind the motion when asked by Minority Leader Michael Fernandez for a reason behind the motion.
Councilor Alfie said Macalanda’s basis for her motion was to protest the continued discussion of the mayor’s speech that despite Councilor Redford Erfe-Mejia’s motion to adjourn, “Vice Mayor and SP presiding officer Bryan Kua ignored the motion to adjourn.”
Erfe-Mejia made the motion to adjourn after he carped about how the minority members were engaging the mayor on her statements.
Macalanda argued that parliamentary rules dictate that a motion for adjournment is not debatable.
It will be recalled it was that point when all seven members of the majority – Councilors Erfe-Mejia, Alfie and Librada, Celia Lim, Irene Lim – Acosta, Alvin Coquia and Marilou Fernandez – stood up and walked out of the session hall.
Councilor Alfie stressed that when the majority walked out, there was already no quorum, citing it as basis for the deletion of the proceedings and rejection of the minutes.
“Tandaan po natin na (from) the moment na yong majority in the council ay lumabas po sa council, wala na po tayong quorum. So, ang ibig sabihin, wala na po tayong right to conduct business dahil ang naiwan po ay yong mga minority members lamang,” he said.
For his part, Kua sustained his ruling to hold and hear the objections against the motion to adjourn since rules were already suspended from the time Mayor Fernandez was allowed to address the chamber.
“Hindi ako papayag na gamitin ang motion to adjourn na pigilan ang isang tao—si Mayor— na magsalita,” Kua intoned.
Councilor Jeslito Seen cited a case when then Vice Mayor Brian Lim adjourned the session when the Sanggunian was passing the 2018 Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) following a motion to adjourned raised by Councilor Guillermo Vallejos but wit3h strong objection from Councilor Jose Netu Tamayo. Lim, Vallejos and Councilor Erfe-Mejia left the session immediately.
The session resumed only after DILG Regional Office gave the green light for its resumption, citing the provision of the of the Local Government Code. With Presiding Pro Tempore Councilor Karlos Reyna taking over as temporary presiding officer, the CLUP was passed.
Councilor and minority floor leader Michael Fernandez reminded the members that the LGC, created by R.A. 7160, takes precedence over internal rules created by a mere resolution of the SP. He also said the majority moved for the adjournment while the session was yet on the period of privilege time and more than one half of the agenda are yet left to be tackled.
In reiterating the motion to delete the proceedings, Councilor Alfie manifested: “For the record, we appreciate the surprise visit of Mayor Belen Fernandez at the Sangguniang Panlungsod. Rest assured that the statement of the City Mayor will be given as guide in conducting the public hearings with regards to the annual Investment Plan and the Annual Budget. Maraming salamat Mayor sa pagdating sa Sangguniang Panlungsod, makakaasa kayo na lahat ng binitiwan ninyong salita ay gagamitin namin sa pagdinig sa Annual Budget and the Annual Investment Plan”
When Macalanda said: “For the record, Mr. Presiding Officer you continued the session which was already adjourned.”
And Vice Mayor Kua replied: “Also for the record, tayo ay nagkaroon ng objection. Sabi ko, puede naman nating pakinggan yong objection. Suspended ang rules noon. Wala tayong rules noong banda na yon… and nobody raised the issue of a quorum ”
But the majority was not moved and the motion to disapprove and delete the proceedings was approved. (Leonardo Micua)
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