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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, August 15, 2016
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TIGHT ROPE
WITH MODESTO P. SA-ONOY

Is the SP serious?

Tightrope

The question does not need to be asked because surely the Bacolod Sanggunian conducts serious business. However, the contents of the proposed ordinance declaring all illegal structures constructed on the road as nuisance per se appears not to be a serious effort in attaining its objectives as the citizens would want it, without fear or favor.

 In fact this ordinance is not really needed because as the councilors declared these structures are illegal in the first place and as such they should be removed as a matter of course. Sadly they had been tolerated for generations to the chagrin of the law-abiding citizens, especially drivers and pedestrians.

We had been raising complaints against these structures because they impede movement of vehicular and pedestrian traffic and it needed no ordinance for the city government to remove them. If they are illegal by their very nature as the proposed ordinance says, why were the law enforcement agencies looking the other way?

I find the contents of the proposed ordinanceas effete but it is good political public relations. It just telegraphs the image that the SP is doing something about the problem. That is why I asked the question whether they are serious. There are some reasons for this view.

First, why is it addressed or directed to the City Legal office and the Bacolod Traffic Authority Office and not to the Mayor of the city?Ordinances are to be enforced by the executive and that executive is the mayor who is mandated by law to implement all laws.

The Local Government Code, in fact, has already empowered the mayor to do exactly what the SP proposes. He has other powers that can force the owners of these structures to remove them with direct orders to the CLO to demolish them.

The CLO and the BTAO are under the mayor and had to seek clearance from him for their determined and firm enforcement. In fact the mayor can effectively make the SP resolution inutile by simply ignoring it as we had experienced in the past.

Moreover the mayor can mobilize other agencies like the police and the City Engineer’s Office which are not mentioned in the proposed ordinance. There is also need for coordination with the Department of Public Works and Highways because some of the roads occupied by the illegal structures belong to the national government.
More importantly the mayor has direct authority and supervision over the barangays that tolerated these structures.

These structures had been there for years and although they are illegal per se, the barangay officials who are the executives on the ground had allowed these structures to proliferate and to blossom. Why is the proposed ordinance silent on the responsibility and accountability of these officials?

I am asking this question because the barangay officials can also ignore the proposed ordinance and without the mayor’s order, can the ordinance be firmly enforced without opposition? I doubt it because the mayor and the SP members as politicians need the support of the barangay officials. The CLO and BTAO can be “smoothed over” when it comes to the enforcement of the ordinance on “friendly” barangays.

Will the mayor or his subalterns, the CLO and the BTAO enforce the ordinance without hesitation in barangays that are the allies of the mayor and the SP members? Can they displease them to the extent that they will withdraw support for GrupoProgreso?

Thus the ordinance can be used against barangay officials who are not with the party in power. It can be the club to make them toe the party line as Duterte is using the illegal drug campaign to exert pressure on politicians to jump into his wagon.

The ordinance has no sanctions against the violators and barangay officials who have allowed, or profited from the illegal structures. They are not even made to account for this violation of the law right in their own backyard.
Without penalties the ordinance will be toothless, the least for dereliction or neglect of duty.

However, if the purpose is to insulate or shield the mayor from a backlash from the disadvantaged, angry barangay officials or from thosewho are liable for these structures the SP is doing just fine but not helping him. They just expose the same kind of mentality of the previous Sanggunian that gave the initial SP a bad name.

Is there any difference at all?*

           

 

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