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Can Pagadian City have an OIC-mayor?


LIFE’S INSPIRATION: “…`Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?’…” (Genesis 41:38, the Holy Bible).

CAN PAGADIAN CITY HAVE AN OIC-MAYOR? Can Pagadian City Mayor Samuel Co, now evidently inaccessible because of a non-bailable arrest warrant which the courts issued against him after he was named as an accused in the P12 billion Aman Futures investment scam, appoint an officer-in-charge other than the city’s vice mayor to administer the city government and its affairs?

The answer revolves around the issue of whether Co is disabled---permanently or temporarily---from discharging his duties and responsibilities as a result of the large scale estafa against him. If he is rendered incapable of performing his job as a mayor, whether permanently or merely temporarily, he cannot appoint any officer-in-charge.

The reason is that the rule on succession provided for by the Local Government Code of 1991 will have to be followed, as a matter of course. This rule does not allow any deviation, and is required to be strictly followed once the conditions provided for therein exist.

LOCAL GOV’T CODE REQUIRES AUTOMATIC SUCCESSION: What does the Code provide when a mayor or any other local government chief becomes incapacitated to perform his duties and responsibilities? There are three  rules which complement one another on the issue.

The first is Section 456, which says: “Section 456. Powers, Duties and Compensation. (a) The city vice-mayor shall… (3) Assume the office of the city mayor for the unexpired term of the latter in the event of permanent vacancy as provided for in Section 44, Book I of this Code; (4) Exercise the powers and perform the duties and functions of the city mayor in cases of temporary vacancy as provided for in Section 46, Book I of this Code…”

Section 44, on the other hand, pertinently provides: “Section 44. Permanent Vacancies in the Offices of the Governor, Vice-Governor, Mayor, and Vice-Mayor.---If a permanent vacancy occurs in the office of the governor or mayor, the vice-governor or vice-mayor concerned shall become the governor or mayor.”

And Section 66 says: “(a) When the governor, city or municipal mayor, or punong barangay is temporarily incapacitated to perform his duties for physical or legal reasons such as, but not limited to, leave of absence, travel abroad, and suspension from office, the vice-governor, city or municipal vice-mayor… shall automatically exercise the powers and perform the duties and functions of the local chief executive concerned…”

ONLY A TRO CAN ALLOW MAYOR CO TO REMAIN AS MAYOR: Whether Co admits it or not, he is unable to discharge his duties as mayor at this point. Because of the warrant of arrest against him, he cannot be at his office at the City Hall. In fact, nobody knows where he is at this point. And that is a decision anchored on self-preservation, because if he will continue discharging his duties as Pagadian City’s chief executive, he will surely be arrested.

Considering this situation, there is no denying the fact that Co is suffering from an incapacity to assume and discharge his duties as mayor. At this point, it is no longer material to inquire if his incapacity is permanent or temporary. In either case, the vice mayor is required by law to become the mayor. Unless, of course, Co is able to secure a restraining order against the warrant against him.

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