Rama vetoes ordinance for solo parents in city
Niña G. Sumacot-Abenoja (The Freeman) - June 12, 2014 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama has vetoed City Ordinance 2935 which seeks to grant cash assistance to solo parents.

Rama said the ordinance does not address the needs of solo parents and has provisions that are discriminatory and violative of the equal protection clause guaranteed by the Constitution.

"CO 2395, while having the noblest intent, may not fully address the needs of solo parents," Rama said in his veto letter addressed to Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella, presiding officer of the City Council.

Rama said aside from being discriminatory, he believes that the ordinance is ultra vires in nature or beyond its scope.

He cited the provision of the ordinance which requires that: "For a solo parent to avail of the cash assistance, he or she must be registered and a resident voter of Cebu City who has voted in three consecutive local and national elections."

"Stated differently, only 'religious' voters can avail of the cash incentive under CO 2395 to the disadvantage or discrimination of 'non-religious' voters even if the latter's reasons of failing to vote may be valid, thereby making the said welfare ordinance more 'political' in character," Rama explained.

The mayor also viewed it as "impracticable."

"It is an impracticable local legislation, which to some sectors of society, is perceived as an encouragement for premarital sex among the youth, promiscuity, and other ills that destroy the very foundation of families,' Rama added.

These solo parents, the mayor said, should instead be provided with long-term solutions such as skills training, scholarship programs, educational benefits, housing programs, and medical subsidies, among others, as mentioned in Republic Act 8972 or the Solo Parents' Welfare Act of 2000.

"It only provides for mere cash assistance and not the entire Comprehensive Program for Services specifically mentioned in RA 8972," Rama said.

Rama's letter was discussed during yesterday's council session resulting in a brief verbal exchange between Labella and the ordinance's author, Councilor Gerardo Carillo.

Carillo contended that Section 54 of the Local Government Code gives the local chief executive only 10 days to veto an ordinance. Carillo said that 26 days have already lapsed since it was passed.

Carillo is of the opinion that his ordinance is "deemed approved and signed."

Labella explained that he was acting mayor when the ordinance was passed for mayor's signature on May 14. According to Labella, it was him who returned the ordinance to the council secretary for reasons of propriety and ethical norms since he was presiding officer of the City Council when it was passed.

"I could not be the attesting, presiding, and approving officers. The mayor has a valid veto based on my pronouncements and testimonies," said Labella, who is also a lawyer.

"When the law is clear, it doesn't leave any room for clarification or interpretation. So 10 days is 10 days," the Carillo insisted.

Labella and Carillo eventually agreed to have Rama's veto letter referred to the committee on laws chaired by another lawyer member of the council, Sisinio Andales. — (FREEMAN)


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