A major political intramural at the Sanggunian Panlungsod is expected to erupt followingÂ an attempt to overhaul the committee chairmanships.
The move caught members of the minority block by surprise while it sparked a political battle during last Friday’s regular session.
A resolution was suddenly foisted before the SP by Councilor Adam RelsonÂ Jala that moved for the stripping of the three city councilors – Agustinus Gonzaga, Greggy Gatal and Jonas Cacho of their committee chairmanships after a bitter debate over the validity of tax exemption ordinances that the Commission on Audit (COA) 2015 Annual Audit Report (AAR) found to be “bereft of any legal basis.”
Â But the revamp was held in abeyance upon the motion of Gonzaga himself who manifested that the matter should first beÂ discussed by the body with the participation of the presiding officer, Vice Mayor Antonio Veloso who was the acting city mayor in the absence of City Mayor Baba Yap.
Veloso told theÂ ChronicleÂ “I was caught unaware by the recent developments in the SP.”Â
Jala was the acting presiding officer while Veloso is acting mayor but relinquished the chair to Councilor Joseph Bompat during the heated debates during the session on Friday.
“This sad development is not conducive to a healthy democratic environment in the SP since this is confrontational and contrary to the thrust of the administration of fostering constructive cooperation”, lamented Veloso.
A copy of the proposed resolution re-organizing the officers and composition of the different standing committees of the 13th SP showed that Gonzaga was replaced by Eliezer Borja as assistant floor leader.Â
Gonzaga’s chair in the ethics, good government, public accountability and investigations was taken over by Nicanor BesasÂ but retained his chairmanship in the justice, human rights, labor and employment committee.
Gatal was replaced by Dulce GlovasaÂ as chairperson of the tourism committee while Philipp BesasÂ took over Gatal’sÂ seat as economic enterprise and privatization committee chairperson. The chairmanship information and communications technology was given to Gatal.
Jonas Cacho was replaced by Dulce Glovasa as education chairperson but retained his chairmanship of the youth and sports committee.
According to Gonzaga in an interview over DYRD “Tagbilaran by Nite” Â described the revamp as an apparent retaliation over their insistence for a total repeal of two ordinances covering the granting of real property and business tax condonation and real property and business tax exemptions.
However, Jala debunked the accusations of Gonzaga, telling theÂ ChronicleÂ that no movement of committee chairmanships has been carried out since the majority will have to discuss the merits of his resolutionÂ during a special session tomorrow.
Jala said that “the chair of all committees still stands. There is a status quo until the majority decides on the matter.”
Invoking provisions of the 2015 revised rules of procedure of the SP, Jala affirmed that chairpersons, vice-chairs and members of the standing committees shall hold office unless sooner removed by a majority of all the members of the SP.Â
Jala also categorically denied that the revamp of the committee chairmanship was linked to a 2015 COA post audit report that showed Alturas Supermarket Corporation-Island City Mall (ASC-ICM) was one of the business establishments that availed of the tax and business incentives offered by the city.
The city government, in answer to COA’s findings maintained that according to the Local Government Code, section 192 states that LGU’s through ordinances duly approved, may grant tax exemptions, incentives or reliefs under such terms and conditions as they may deem necessary.Â Â (Chito M. Visarra)