Malabon leadership row solvedBy Kristine Felisse Mangunay
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The highest-ranking member of the Malabon City council has formally assumed the position of vice mayor in an acting capacity after the Department of the Interior and Local Government opined that Vice Mayor Antolin Oreta III could not perform the roles of vice mayor and mayor simultaneously after Mayor Canuto Oreta filed an indefinite leave in January.
In a two-page letter received by the City Legal Office on March 9, the DILG said that while acting as the local chief executive, Oreta III was “legally deprived” of exercising the functions pertaining to the Office of the Vice Mayor by virtue of the principle of separation of powers, and that Councilor Diosdado Cunanan should therefore assume as the city’s vice mayor in an acting capacity.
The camp of Oreta III did not object to the DILG opinion.
“There’s nothing we can do about that. It’s the DILG saying that already,” Elvin Cruz, city legal officer, told the Inquirer.
The DILG opinion stemmed from a letter sent to the agency by Cruz on Feb. 28 seeking clarification on what should be done withConchita Carpio-Morales the mayor’s temporary absence.
On March 2, Cunanan sent a separate letter seeking the same clarification.
Although the Local Government Code is clear on the fact that it is the vice mayor who should step in as acting mayor in such circumstances, it did not specify whether there is a temporary vacancy that has to be filled in the Office of the Vice Mayor as a result.
Prior to the issuance of the DILG opinion, it was Oreta III who was holding the positions of vice mayor and mayor in an acting capacity at the same time.
“…The vice mayor cannot simultaneously perform the functions and duties in both the offices of the mayor and vice-mayor because it would intermingle two separate powers, i.e., executive and legislative, which has (sic) been delineated and vested by law to two separate offices, to provide a system of checks and balances,” the letter signed by Jesus Doque, director of the DILG’s legal services department, said.
The DILG clarified, however, that although Cunanan could perform all the duties and functions pertaining to the city vicemayor’s office, the role of presiding officer in the city council vested in the vice mayor under the law was not automatically given to him.