Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and her legal team agreed that the legal opinion issued by Secretary Crispin Remulla had “some very useful items” that can be used for the crafting of the implementing rules and regulations of Cebu Provincial Ordinance No. 2023-02.
However, Capitol has maintained that the “premise is wrong” for it lacked some facts that could have provided a “different tone” had events on the ground were clearly known.
In a press conference Monday afternoon, May 15, Gov. Garcia, together with her legal counsels did not blame the justice secretary, however, as he was merely reacting to the information given him during which time the issue had not yet been fully clarified.
Sec. Remulla’s undated opinion (received last April 24, 2023 by the Presidential Management Staff) came in response to Senior Usec. Elaine Masukat’s possible query on the legality of Cebu’s newly passed law.
The governor then went on to expound the salient points of the ordinance and reiterated that it is “merely an enabling ordinance” reinforcing certain provisions of Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991 (LGC).
The newly passed ordinance requires national government agencies and government-owned and -controlled corporations to consult with and gain the approval of the Capitol before implementing any of their programs and projects in the province.
These requirements, however, are not something that are conjured by the brilliant minds of the members of the Provincial Board, as these have been enshrined in the LGC, particularly in Sections 2(c), 25(b), 26 and 27.
The governor said she is aware of the “atmosphere” the opinion was done but she will get to the bottom of how the query was carried out for the secretary to come up with such.
“Let us do justice to the opinion of the secretary. So to do justice to his opinion, which I do surmise there were incomplete facts, in fact some were quite erroneous, and how such query was based,” she said.
In fact, a day after Remulla’s letter was received by PMS, Special Assistant to the President, Secretary Anton Lagdameo Jr., and DILG Secretary Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr. visited the governor at the Capitol and listened to her side.
Upon hearing the governor’s reasons about the LGU’s need for a working mechanism with national line agencies that is provided for in the ordinance, Sec. Abalos, who was a long time mayor of Mandaluyong, could only laugh in agreement, remembering how in many occasions he had also requested national agencies to coordinate with his office in the implementation of their projects in his city.
The governor believes that by this time, the Justice chief and the PMS have already been provided with sufficient factual information regarding the Province’s ordinance.
Gov. Gwen and the lawyers clarified anew that the passage of the ordinance has nothing to do with the issue between the Capitol and the Bureau of Animal Industry over the handling of the African Swine Fever in the province.
In fact, during a recent consultation with regional directors of state agencies witnessed by Undersecretary Leonardo Roy Cervantes of the Office of the Executive Secretary, the RDs welcomed the ordinance, expressing their willingness to work with the Provincial Government in the future.
“If we have been so used to doing things all these years, and the same old problems cropping up again and again, are we just going to be complacent? Shrug our shoulders and say, ‘Mao man gyud na. Ganyan talaga, eh, wala tayong magagawa.’ Meron tayong magagawa. You have the Local Government Code, and that is why we decided to do something about it. Surprise, surpise, our regional directors are in agreement,” the governor said.
Capitol officials also agreed that the opinion is already moot but appreciates that this came out as “some very useful items” can be used for the final crafting of the IRR.
“Maybe it would have been better that this was not sent to media because I think a more corrected version taking more complete facts would have perhaps change the tone,” the governor said.
In general, the governor believes there is more work to be done in order to reach a consensus and understanding.
“It made us realize that really as they say from us down here up to the upper echelons, many things are lost in translation and it behooves upon us to have open minds. As far as we are concerned, then we shall repeat as we have repeated one more time the whys and wherefores of our position and the whys and wherefores of the ordinance,” she said.
She likewise reiterated that she has deferred the implementation by first coming up with a “doable, understandable, sensible and logical implementing rules and guidelines.”
“Because that is how we always operate here in the province of Cebu,” the governor said. |Carlo Lorenciana with VLA