Malolos City—February, the so-called month of love and hearts, was indeed red and fiery in this capital city of Bulacan.
On its 80th regular session on January 18, a group composed of councilors Francisco Castro, Enrico Capule, Mikki Soto, Kirk Nicolas, Edgardo Domingo, Niño Bautista and ABC pres. Dionisio Mendoza asserted its majority status, convened and went into session without the presiding officer, Vice Mayor Len Pineda.
Bautista, a lawyer, assumed the chair as presiding officer.
In just 12 minutes, the group, calling itself “7up in Action” and closely identified with City Mayor Gilbert Gatchalian, passed the city’s Annual Budget (City Ordinance 02-2021); a new Internal Rules of Procedure (City Ordinance 07-2021); and the city’s Annual Investment Program (08-2021).
Normally, the deliberation for the annual budget takes several weeks, sometimes months, before it is approved.
Vice Mayor Pineda told Manila Standard: “Noong mga oras na iyon, nasa opisina lang ako. Wala naman akong advice kay Sanggunian Secretary Cristy Gutierrez na hindi ako makakadalo. Nang may nagtext sa akin na nagse-sesyon na ang grupo, dali-dali akong pumanhik at pumasok sa session hall pero minadali pa rin ni Konsehal Bautista ang kanilang maniobra sa pagpasa ng tatlong ordinansa.”
“Simple courtesy could have goaded Gutierrez to alert and call my office to say that there is already a quorum. But she did not do that,” he said.
Pineda also lamented what he described as the stealthy manner with which the group railroaded the passage of the three ordinances.
“The conspiracy of the group smacks of usurpation of authority of the Office of the Vice Mayor,” he said.
Pineda filed a case against the seven city councilors before the Office of the Ombudsman in Quezon City for gross neglect of duty, conspiracy to commit usurpation of authority, other criminal and administrative offenses for their refusal to attend the regular session of the Sanggunian.
“Hindi magandang ehemplo ang ginawa nila lalo nasa kabisera pa naman tayo ng Bulacan,” he said.