The Sangguniang Panlungsod of Bacolod City did not hold its regular session yesterday for failure to reach a quorum as some of its members were on sick or official leave.
Only Councilors El Cid Familiaran, Sonya Verdeflor, Elmer Sy, Archie Baribar and Catalino Alisbo of the “First Five” were present at the Session Hall together with Vice Mayor Jude Thaddeus Sayson, the presiding officer.
Councilors Dindo Ramos, Al Victor Espino, Roberto Rojas, Homer Bais, Caesar Distrito, Carlos Jose Lopez, Mona Dia Jardin, Manuel Keith Ramos, and Em Ang, all of the Grupo Progreso, failed to show up yesterday.
Lopez and Jardin were on official travel, while Ramos said he was not able to attend due to hypertension.
Both Distrito and Ang said they were on sick leave.
Espino said that although he forgot that it was Wednesday yesterday and they had a scheduled session, he still could not go because he could hardly walk.
Bais said he was also on official travel.
Baribar yesterday confirmed the lack of quorum, saying he does not know what went wrong. “My own interpretation is that the absence of the nine members of Council might be a fall out of the group because of the choice for the Vice Mayor,” he said.
The Vice Mayors' League of Iloilo City were on an educational tour at the Bacolod City Government Center yesterday and their failure to reach a quorum might be more educational to see on their part, he added.
The National People’s Coalition has nominated former Councilor Greg Gasataya as the party’s official candidate for vice mayor of Bacolod.
Gasataya was chosen by the NPC national hierarchy from among the list of nine probable candidates submitted by the local party in Bacolod.
Baribar said "I considered it as a boycott. This is first time in my own experience since I became councilor in 1995.”
Sayson, who is NPC’s mayoralty candidate, denied that it was a boycott as two councilors were on official travel and four others were on official leave.
They only needed three more councilors yesterday to have a quorum, he said. It might be that the rest have other concerns and that, usually, there are one or two councilors who are absent every time they conduct sessions, he added..
However, Sayson said there were no “life and death” concerns included in the agenda yesterday.
There were reports yesterday that the nine members of the Grupo Progreso did not accept the decision of the NPC Manila nominating Gasataya as the official candidate of the NPC for Vice Mayor, for lack of proper consultation.
Mayor Evelio Leonardia said they expected some reactions and anticipate that. There were many who are interested in the position but they only have to choose one, he said.
Leonardia said they have agreed earlier to let the NPC national directorate decide who will run for vice mayor to avoid any possible personal repercussions in their relationship with one another.
Asked for his reaction on the choice of Gasataya, Ramos said he does not want to comment on the matter for now. But he is considering many options, whether to go back to private practice or seek higher office, he said.
Espino said he is also weighing his options and is consulting with his family, friends and leaders.
Distrito said he respects the decision of the NPC national directorate since it was not the decision of the local party. They will abide with its decision as members of the NPC, he said.
Leonardia said he believes the NPC national directorate may have seen the teamwork of Gasataya and Sayson when they were together from 2007 to 2010, where the former was floor leader of the Vice Mayor.
He said he believes that was a major factor that helped them work together in harmony and they were productive.
Leonardia said this may have been the time when the SP was recognized by the Department of Interior and Local Government as the number one performing SP in Western Visayas. A big factor then was the teamwork of Sayson and Gasataya, he said.
“If given a chance to work together as mayor and vice mayor, they can use this chemistry for a higher responsibility that will ensure the continued progress of Bacolod,” he added.*CGS