Spring cannot be higher than the source
By Leonardo Micua
DURING the third regular session of the Sangguniang Panglunsod of Dagupan (there was no quorum after the inaugural session), Councilor Jigs Seen broke the ice by delivering a privilege speech directed at the heart of the new majority when he slammed the new Internal Rules and Procedures (IRP or House Rules) that were inconsistent with Republic Act 7160, known as the Local Government Code.
To emphasize his exasperation over the document, he quoted an old maxim which says, “the spring cannot rise higher than the source,” and pointed out that the House Rules sponsored by the new majority in the Sanggunian not only ignored the Local Government Code passed by Congress in 1991, but proceeded to amend it.
RA 7160 is a substantive law that cannot be superseded by any law, much less by a mere resolution or ordinance, including the House Rules enacted by local legislative bodies yet Seen had to appeal to his colleagues in the majority to have a heart and amend the violative portions of the HR.
Indeed, the majority not only misinterpreted the law but also defied the will of the people of Dagupan, by giving themselves much power while clipping the power of members of the minority, relegating them to the role as mere observers.
This should not be the case even if the roles in the Sanggunian have changed since the last. Those in the minority before are now in the majority and those in the majority before are today’s minority.
Seen believes the new majority over-stepped its boundaries as the new HR, rammed down the throats of members of the minority, went to the extent of divesting the Secretary of the Sanggunian of his duties, powers and responsibilities to sign invitations to resource speakers, whose views and opinions are vital in law-making. To put all these in the hands of the chairmen the committees is violative of the democratic process in governance.
According to Seen, obviously in defense of City Secretary Ryan Ravanzo, no law or resolution can expressly diminish what has been specifically granted to him by the Local Government Code.
Methinks it even encroaches on the power of the SP presiding officer, Vice Mayor Bryan Kua, who is mandated by law to direct the secretary to send an invitation to any resource speaker that the chamber may wish to invite.
There are more sections in the new HR that the minority in the SP wanted to be spiked to make it more responsive to the demands of the times but for political reasons the new majority may not be prepared to grant.
Take the case of ex-officio Councilor Joshua Bugayong. The new HR infringes on the Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Act of 2015 when he was relegated as a mere member of the youth and sports development committee when in fact he should be the chairman as provided for by that law.
Seen summed up his treatise (he is a holder of two doctorate degrees) by saying: “In the case of the just approved House Rules, spring is not just rising higher but it threatens to overflow and spill (water) from the source and drown all of is.”
It can be recalled that the past sanggunian had nine members in the majority versus only 3, making the former the super majority. So big was the number of the super majority, that it was capable of overriding a veto of the executive to an ordinance.
Now we have 7 councilors in majority and 5 in the minority and the former is already acting as if it owns the entire SP and controls the whole house. Councilors Dennis Canto and Michael Fernandez, remnants of the past Sanggunian, were never heard to have flaunted their clout as members of the super majority.
They (Dennis and Michael included) were more considerate of their three colleagues in the former minority (Celia Lim, Dada Reyna and Cisco Flores) out of respect and courtesy by giving them committees to head. But today, the five minority members of the SP are without committees!
The new HR spawned suspicions that the new majority in the city council may be up to a sinister plot to derail the UnliSerbisyo program and projects of Mayor Belen Fernandez. Watch out fellow Dagupenos!
There’s no doubt that politics is still in the minds of the seven honorable members of the majority, the exact opposite to what they manifested during their inaugural session – to cast politics aside for the good of the city and people.
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