City Council numbers

OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide - The Freeman

The session of the Cebu City Council last Wednesday should weigh heavily on the minds of the top leaders of the city’s opposing political camps. Mayor Edgardo Labella, Vice Mayor Michael Rama, and former Mayor Tomas Osmeña have to learn from the results of the voting of the City Council on such main issues as budgeting. Control of the Council is very important.

At the top of last Wednesday’s agenda was the supplemental budget of over a billion pesos. Quite sadly, it seemed that appropriating such a huge amount of peoples’ money did not apparently meet the kind of scrutiny that it rightfully deserved. We would have wanted that the city aldermen examine every direction where funds are to be poured. I heard that the discussion was abbreviated. The councilors were, in a manner of speaking, gun shy. Eight Council members belonging to the Labella-Rama camp cast their affirmative vote while six councilors allied with Osmeña registered “no” votes.

The question had to be asked. Did the supplemental budget get the number of votes required to be considered as validly passed? Differently said, were the eight votes enough?

To answer that question, we visit Section 9 of the Internal Rules of the Cebu City Council. It reads: “Votes Required to Pass Measures. – Ordinary motions or resolutions may be approved by a majority of the members present, there being a quorum.

“The affirmative vote of a majority of the members of the Sanggunian shall be necessary for the passage of any ordinance or resolution directing the payment of money, contracting of indebtedness or liability, providing for the expenditure of public funds, the adoption of local development plan and public investment programs, and other such matters provided for in the Local Government Code of 1991.”

With eight elected councilors from the north district and another eight from the south, there are 16 regular members of the City Council. To their number are added two ex-officio members, namely the ABC president and the SK Federation chairman. The total number of 18 therefore, compose the members of the City Council. Whenever the issue is taxpayers’ money, we reckon the total membership of the City Council which is 18. A majority of that number, as required by its own internal rules, is one half plus one. One half of 18 is nine, then plus one, according to the house rules, 10 affirmative votes shall be needed to pass a budgetary measure.

As of the present, the administration of Mayor Labella has councilors Mabatid, Garcia, Garganera, and Guardo in the North District. Had not the Comelec disqualified Atty. Andales and Mr. Arcilla, the mayor could only count on the support of Mabatid and Garcia. The seats of Garganera and Guardo were courtesy of the Osmeña camp. If, as rumored, Mabatid seeks the north congressional seat and Garcia aims for vice mayor in the 2022 polls, the camp of Labella in the Council will be decimated. Only Garganera can put up a fight. With a bandwagon mentality, the north district might produce an 8-0 BOPK victory.

The South District is expected to do almost a reverse. Labella’s camp might register a 7-1 win. The City Council will thus stand at an uneasy nine from the Osmeña side and seven from the Labella group. In the initial months of the 2022 Council, with the ABC president (assuming he does not run for any office) and the SK Federation chairman aligned with Osmeña, the voting equation is stacked against Labella’s group. Any Labella (assuming he wins) budgetary ordinance will be subjected to minute examination, if not rejected outright!

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