By Nitz Arancon
FORMER vice mayor and congressman Erasmo Damasing Jr. and two ex-councilors who served the city during the Mgtajas administration yesterday booed the city council, and criticized its members for allegedly allowing partisanship to get in the way of their work as local legislators.
“The lawyers in the city council are supposed to know parliamentary rules but because of too much politics, they just keep silent,” said Damasing.
Monday’s ruckus in the city council was a clear case of how politics could rear its ugly head, he said.
Former councilors Edgardo Raagas and Constantino Cabacungan gave similar views and like Damasing, showed displeasure over the way the city council has been tackling and dealing with matters that affect Cagayan de Oro.
“During our time, we were independent from each other even when the mayor was our partymate. If there was an issue that we thought went against public interest, we made a stand as individuals, unmindful of what our partymates were thinking. Whenever public interest was at stake, we decided on our own,” said Raagas.
For ex-councilor Cabacungan, the root of the problem in the city council is former mayor Vicente Emano who, he said, clearly wants to stage a comeback.
“Dongkoy (Emano) knows that if Oscar Moreno succeeds with his projects, it’s going to be very difficult for him to return to power again,” said Cabacungan.
The three former legislators advised Vice Mayor Caesar Ian Acenas, Emano’s partymate, and councilors to learn and stick to parliamentary rules during their sessions in order to avoid circus-like meetings.
“When in session, they should follow parliamentary rules, and not the rules of their political parties,” said Raagas.
Raagas, Damasing and Cabacungan said city council members should study and master the Robert’s Rules of Order, a body of rules, ethics, and customs governing meetings.
The Robert’s Rules of Order is the most common procedural authority in use which is being followed in many countries like the US and the Philippines.
Damasing said future city council sessions would likely end up like the one on Monday unless Acenas insists on holding sessions governed by accepted parliamentary rules.
Raagas said Acenas should bear in mind that his primary work is to preside over the session of the city council which include members of the minority.
“His work is to preside. He can only vote if there is a tie, and if he wants to participate in the deliberation, he has to relinquish his post to another member of the city council,” he said.
But Cabacungan was straightforward: “Sila tanan diha sa konseho dili balo. Kinahanglan nga masayod sila kung kanus-a sila motindog ug unsay ilang isulti diha sa city council, dili kay bisan unsa nalang nga pulong ang ipagawas sa ilang baba kay magkayagaw man.”
Cabacungan said he has been observing the city council, and it looked to him like its members were not taking their work seriously.
“They should prepare before going to the session hall, dili kay ayha ra magbasa-basa sa ilang agenda kon mag-session na,” he said.
Damasing said city council sessions would be orderly if the vice mayor knows how to preside over a meeting.
“If there are un-parlimanetary words used like ‘utok kuyamad’ or ‘bugok,’ the vice mayor has the power to have the words struck out from the records of the city council,” he said.
The words “utok kuyamad” (small-brained) were uttered by Councilor President Elipe as he attacked members of the city council minority during their session on Monday. Councilor Zaldy Ocon later called Acenas “bugok” (dumb) as he criticized the vice mayor for allegedly allowing Elipe to dominate the discussion, and for participating in the deliberations.
On Tuesday, former councilor Dulcesimo Ytem lambasted the city council and called it a “disgrace” to the city. Like Damasing, Raagas and Cabacungan, Ytem said Acenas and the councilors need to learn and be governed by parliamentary rules during their meetings.
The city council ruckus on Monday stemmed from a special report by Councilor Teodulfo Lao who pushed for the approval of a proposal for city hall to release P12 million as a counterpart fund for a P120-million farm-to-market road project of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in the city.
Lao said all documentary requirements have been submitted, and the only thing lacking was the approval of the city council.
But Councilor Elipe, chairman of the council’s finance committee, said there was no right-of-way certification yet. Because of that, he said, the ordinance could not be approved yet.
Damasing said, “Dili mana sila moto-o ug tambag. Ang ako nalang nga kining mga tawhana nga nagbabag-babag niining maong proyekto timan-an ni sila sa katawhan, ug dili na iboto sa sunod nga election.”