Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Albay board refuses to correct invalid ordinance

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 8 (PNA) -- The Sangguniang Panlalawigan ng Albay (SPA) is not inclined to invalidate the contested Legazpi City ordinance naming a road after a village chief despite an earlier official statement from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines finding it invalid for grave violation of the law.

The city road involved is the Gov. Ramon Santos Street extension here renamed as Jose L. Lee Street, in honor of a former barangay captain who died 10 years ago.

Santos was the first Albay governor during the American occupation responsible for the surrender of General Simeon A. Ola, the last Filipino general to surrender.

Former senator Victor S. Ziga urged the Legazpi City government under Mayor Noel Rosal and Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda to take their respective initiatives in correcting the glaring violations in City Ordinance 0001-2015.

The ordinance turned out to have not been “unanimously” approved by the city council, and did not comply with the “prior consultation” clause with the NHCP as the law requires.

Ziga said he himself has written the NHCP for action against the officials involved and to order rectification of the assailed city ordinance which, he said, has become a "Pandora's box" that led to the discovery of several other scandalous cases of road and street naming not in concurrence with the law.

The late barangay captain Jose L. Lee was succeeded by his son, provincial board member Joseph P. Lee, who is the president of the city’s league of barangay councils and the province’s Association of Barangay Councils.

Ziga lamented that while there were so many distinguished and prominent local leaders with national distinctions who died many years ago and have not been given recognition, present development would show that political attachment has become the best credentials to merit such recognition.

Approved by Rosal on Jan. 22 this year, the city ordinance sponsored by Councilor Rolly Rosal was validated and surprisingly “unanimously” approved by the provincial board on Feb. 17 under Provincial Ordinance Resolution 0044-2015.

Documents showed that the said city ordinance failed to meet the required “unanimous” votes from the city council, with two councilors voting against it, and that there was no “prior consultation” with the NHCP as the law requires.

The road naming row was exposed by businessman Lito Tuanqui, former president of the Albay Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“All that I want here is the recognition of the rule of law, nothing more,” said Tuanqui.

He lamented that despite his active role in insisting for the rule of law by sending almost nine letters to the provincial board, nothing has been done to rectify the deceitful ordinance even as new findings revealed that five other ordinances from the city bearing similar defects were also validated and approved by the provincial board.

Tuanqui said City Ordinance 001-2015 concealed the truth that the street to be replaced is Gov. Santos Extension since what is stated in the approved ordinance its the naming of 5th street to Jose L. Lee Street.

During the inauguration and blessing of the Jose L. Lee Street on Feb. 26, however, the city official invitation showed it was the “renaming” of Gov. Ramon Santos Extension.

The provincial board, on the other hand, approved the said city ordinance in its validation report as naming of the 5th Street.

According to Ziga, NHCP chair Dr. Maria Serena Diokno had already spoken in her March 5 letter to Tuanqui, which clearly declared City Ordinance 0001-2015 as invalid for not complying with the law.

In addition, the NHCP would not even allow the change of the 5th Street as insinuated in the ordinances as it would disrupt the continuity of the route stretching from the corner of Barangay Bariada to the arch of Barangay Oro, Diokno’s letter added.

Last June, Provincial Board Member and lawyer Joemar Madrilejos, chairman committee on laws, delivered a privilege speech during a regular session defending his action for hastily validating City Ordinance 0001-2015 even as his office could not show proof of a single committee hearing held to tackle the ordinance.

In his speech, Madrilejos asserted that his committee had nothing to correct in the approved ordinance that he even blamed Tuanqui for the brewing controversy.

Bicolano historian Dr. Danny Gerona of Naga City said controversial issues in the naming and renaming of roads, streets and other public works project in Naga City and Camarines Sur were immediately resolved in favor of the rule of law.

Manila-based historian Martin Tinio Jr. of Legazpi City decried the act of the city government and the provincial board as a clear insult to human decency and the law.

Bombarded with the controversy, on July 30, Vice Gov. Harold Imperial met with Tuanqui in a hotel here where he initially challenged the whistleblower to bring his case to court.

After Tuanqui presented documents and pointed the glaring violations in City Ordinance 0001-2015, however, the vice governor finally admitted the blunder of the provincial board committee on laws, saying the chairman may have not studied well the said ordinance.

Imperial said he would call for a board meeting to tackle the issue and resolve what should be resolved in favor of the rule of law.

During the meeting, Tuanqui also bared documents on five other city ordinances which were approved by the provincial board without the blessing of the NHCP and not in consonance with the Local Government Code (RA 7160).

Tuanqui said his sources had told him that the chairman committee on laws did not fully report to the board the glaring defects in the ordinance, fueling speculations of alleged plain gross ignorance of the law, if not political accommodation.

He said the unanimous vote from the provincial board members for the validation and approval of said city ordinance was merely reached based on the behest report of the committee on laws in the absence of any committee hearing.(PNA) JBP/FGS/MU/CBD/pjn