Tension flares at SP over rule of succession

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Tension flares at SP over rule of succession

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Board Member Victor Balite | File Photo

Tensions briefly ran high between two Provincial Board (PB) members on Tuesday as questions were raised on the rule of succession to the vice-governorship, particularly during the temporary unavailability of Vice Governor Rene Relampagos.

Senior Board Member Dionisio Victor Balite during the PB’s regular session questioned Board Member Ricky Masamayor’s assumption as officer-in-charge (OIC) of the Office of the Vice-Governor last week after Relampagos took over as acting governor while Governor Arthur Yap was out of the country for an official trip.

Balite raised the issue in a privilege speech delivered during the regular session with Masamayor as presiding officer due to the absence of Relampagos who flew to Manila for a meeting.

However, Masamayor abruptly relinquished his post as presiding officer giving way to Balite after the PB briefly went into recess following Balite’s speech.

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“Gi-question man ni Board Member Balite, so akong gihatag ang linkuranan sa presiding officer para pud makasulti sila na dili ko hakog anang linkuranan,” said Masamayor in an interview over station dyRD’s Tagbilaran by Night later on the same day.

Masamayor was seen sitting at the back of the session hall at the Capitol following the development. He also noticeably left several minutes before the session’s adjournment.  

He later explained that he had to take a phone call.

Meanwhile, Balite also downplayed the incident, saying that he merely wanted clarification on the rule of succession.

“Walay misunderstanding. Amigo mi kaayo ni Board Member Masamayor. I know wala siya ma-aware og unsa akong privilege speech karon, siguro nakuratan lang siya,” Balite said.

The Local Government Code (RA 5185, a general law for local governments) stipulates that the board member with the highest number of votes in the previous election shall succeed as the officer in case a vacancy occurs in the Office of the Vice-Governor.

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Balite who garnered the most votes in the 2019 polls however admitted that there have been amendments to the law and these need clarification among the PB members, none of whom are lawyers.

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According to Balite, they have already agreed to convene the PB as a committee of the whole to discuss the issue on succession with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Provincial Legal Office (PLO).

Balite said that the presiding officer of the PB should also be chosen through an election among the members on occasions when Relampagos is unavailable.

The board member noted he has been planning to raise the issue for a while now with Masamayor already taking over as OIC vice governor “twice” in the past.

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“Akong huna-huna is huwaton nako mo abot ika tulo. Pero wa na man mo sugot akong mga supporters na ‘ayaw na’g huwata’ ky makahimo na og precedence,” he added.

Looming suspension

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The issue on the rule of succession erupted on Tuesday afternoon, a few hours after Yap admitted over station dyRD that a mandatory three-month preventive suspension from the Sandiganbayan could be imminent as he faced a complaint before the anti-graft court.

“As a lawyer, this is part of due process and I have instructed my lawyers to accept it and inform the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) to immediately implement the mandatory suspension upon receipt,”Yap said.

Yap is facing a criminal complaint before the Sandiganbayan Third Division filed by the Office of the Ombudsman based on alleged “widespread misuse” of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) appropriated to former Misamis Occidental 1st District Representative Marina P. Clarete.

With Yap out for 90 days, Relampagos will step in as acting governor leaving a temporary vacancy at the Office of the Vice-Governor. (RT)

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