DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines—Vice Mayor Belen Fernandez took over as acting mayor of this city on Thursday, after Mayor Benjamin Lim suffered a stroke and was brought to Metro Manila for treatment.
Lim’s condition was confirmed by his son in a public announcement here.
In a memorandum issued to city department heads, Fernandez invoked a provision of the Local Government Code assigning the vice mayor the powers, duties, and functions of the city mayor on the fourth day of the absence of the mayor.
“In order that public service will not be disrupted, the undersigned is mandated by law to assume the functions of the city mayor effective today, until Mayor Benjamin Lim shall have reported back to the office,” Fernandez said in her memorandum on Thursday.
Lim sought reelection under the Nacionalista Party but lost to Fernandez, a Liberal Party candidate, in a hotly contested mayoral race here.
Every day since Monday, Lim’s whereabouts was the topic of social media, text messages, local radio stations and coffee shop talks here.
The question did not stop, even after Lim’s son, Vice Mayor-elect and Councilor Marc Brian Lim, issued a statement on Tuesday saying that his father was being treated in Metro Manila.
Sunday Punch, a local weekly, reported on Tuesday on its Facebook page that Lim had supposedly died, quoting a “very reliable source.”
When comments criticizing the post flooded the site, the Punch posted later that day another advisory, saying it was standing by its report.
Councilor Lim, in a statement sent to local media outlets and posted on his Facebook site on Tuesday, said there was no truth to the Punch report.
“Due to demands of the political campaign, Mayor Lim forgot to take his diabetes medication and his blood sugar shot up and suffered a stroke. He was eventually [taken] to a local hospital to get proper medical treatment. Thankfully, his condition was stabilized and he was transferred to a Manila hospital for further treatment,” Councilor Lim said.
The Punch posted the councilor’s statement on its site but did not issue an apology. It instead suggested that the Lim family authorize doctors attending to his needs to issue the bulletin on the mayor’s condition.
“It is the right of the public to know the state of health of its elected leaders especially when their families admit to their illness,” the Punch said.
Councilor Lim did not say when his father suffered a stroke. But a source close to the Lim family said the mayor was taken to a local hospital on Sunday night when he collapsed.
The source, on Thursday, said Mayor Lim was recovering fast and had started signing documents. “Very soon, he will report to his office,” the source said.