VICE Mayor Vicente Emano has hinted that he may not sit as presiding officer of the city council during its sessions until 2010 even as he expressed disinterest in participating in the local legislature’s weekly sessions. Reason: he simply feels uneasy.
The former mayor said this despite threats that a formal complaint would be filed against him in Malacañang for his failure to perform an important function of a vice mayor.
Emano told government-run radio station DxIM that he felt uncomfortable presiding over the city council during its meetings.
The council has so far met 101 times since 2007. Of the 101 sessions, Emano sat as presiding officer only once and that was during its inaugural meeting.
But Emano said he would sit as presiding officer ‘‘if people would dictate me to preside but they will regret it.’’
He added, ‘‘If it is important that I will be there, then I will be there. Basin maka-ingon sila nga tonto nga presiding officer.”
Emano has maintained that he has not broken any law by designating councilors to preside over the city council during its sessions.
But former vice mayor Antonio Soriano, a lawyer by profession, strongly disagreed. He said Emano was risking a lawsuit for ‘‘dereliction of duty, abandonment and absenteeism.’’
Soriano said the interior department may need to step in.
Soriano also said any citizen can file administrative charges against Emano before the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
A fuming Councilor Roger Abaday sought Emano’s resignation because of his absences.
“Dili gyud puwede nga permi na lamang siya mag-assign of lain nga mo-preside,” said Abaday.
Abaday’s group has warned of an administrative complaint against Emano to be brought to the Office of the President for the alleged negligence of duty.
Abaday said a separate complaint for graft would also be filed against Emano in connection with his absences.
By refusing to preside over the city council during its sessions, Emano has been shortchanging taxpayers because he has continued to collect his monthly salary and allowances as a vice mayor, argued Abaday.
Another group has already threatened to launch a paper-tearing campaign as a political message and to shame Emano into presiding over the council during its sessions.
But Manuel Valdehuesa Jr., the leader of a group called Gising Barangay Movement, said Emano deserved more than a paper-tearing campaign.
Valdehuesa said concerned citizens should organize demonstrations outside city hall. He said citizens can express their disgust even to the extent of sabotaging the council’s sessions.
‘‘When legitimate protests and issues are taken up but disregarded and ignored, then it becomes legitimate to resort of extra legal means,” said Valdehuesa.
If plans don’t miscarry, the looming campaign, to be defined by giving pieces of paper a mighty tear whenever and wherever Emano would be seen, would be an offshoot of Councilor Zaldy Ocon’s act of openly ripping the vice mayor’s memoranda that designated councilors to serve as presiding officer during council sessions.
“Kanag pag-gisi sa papel, dili man na illegal. It’s a form of expression,” Valdehuesa said. “Kay dili man sila (opposition councilors) pamation, unsaon man nila pag-express sa ilang pagsupak?”
He said members of the council majority should not focus on Ocon’s act. Rather, he said, the focus should be on Emano’s absences.
Valdehuesa said city hall has suspended many of its workers due to tardiness, and Emano should not be given special treatment.
He criticized the city council for the double standard and for ‘‘indulgence of their vice mayor.”
Councilor Teodulfo Lao said a complaint was being prepared against Emano and other local officials for violation of Section 60 of the Local Government Code of 1991.
Emano, according to Lao, face the prospects of being suspended or removed from office on the grounds of dereliction of duty and unauthorized absences.
“Dili lamang kita taman sa sulti apan ato gyud nga sulayan kung unsa ba gyud ang balaod sa Pilipinas,” said Lao.
He said Emano has shown ‘‘temporary incapacity to discharge the functions’’ of a vice mayor based on the Local Government Code.
Based on the Code, the highest ranking member of the city council, in this case Emano, is obliged to exercise the powers and perform the duties and functions of a vice mayor, he said.
Councilor Ocon said Emano has long abandoned his office, and there appears to be a ‘‘permanent vacancy.’’ By JIGGER JERUSALEM and LITO RULONA – Correspondents Updated July 13, 2009