EditorialThe Lion Roars

The Lion Roars

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Atty. Jose Riodil D. Montebon

A lion has roared! Who will not fear? (Amos 3:8a)

Last Tuesday, Oct. 11 at 5:00 pm, Gov. Pryde Henry Teves came down the steps of the Capitol to address his constituents. He was accompanied by his counsel, Atty. Ferdinand Topacio, his supporters representing the local government units, and his beloved wife, Zonna.

Against the strong advice of Atty. Topacio and his supporters, Gov. Pryde Henry Teves yielded to the Order of Interior & Local Government Sec. Benjamin Abalos, perhaps with a persuasive and forceful whisper from the lion at Malacañang, to step down, and allow his rival to assume the seat of government in Negros Oriental.

By every legal argument, Governor Teves should not have stepped down.

But with his dignity intact, Pryde Henry Teves displayed an admirably- strong moral character by listening to the dictates of his conscience, rather than his own personal ambition.

He preferred to spare the province of Negros Oriental and its people from being subjected to, and suffering from, the uncertainties concerning leadership in the Province.

Pryde Henry Teves also acted out of political expedience.

Knowing full well that the quarrel with Gov. Roel Degamo would boil down to a defiance of President Marcos and all the powers which the Presidency wields, Pryde Henry Teves was wise to know when to back down.

In fairness to Degamo, he exercised gentlemanly patience in allowing the DILG to take the lead in handling an extremely- sensitive situation. After all, Secretary Abalos is the President’s alter ego, and he speaks with the lion’s roar.

The case is far from resolved, however.

You see, the Higher Court did not actually deny the Temporary Restraining Order of Governor Teves.

Instead, it gave the parties 15 days to file their respective comments, after which the matter will be submitted for resolution.

If the law is to be followed, as we extensively discussed in last week’s column, and specifically under Section 60 of the Local Government Code, “Grounds for Disciplinary Actions. An elective local official may be disciplined, suspended, or removed from office on any of the following grounds: (parenthetically, this covers the quo warranto against Teves, and the disqualification against Degamo) xxx An elective local official may be removed from office on the grounds enumerated above by order of the proper court.” (Emphasis supplied)

It is clear from the last paragraph of the afore-cited provision that the penalty of dismissal from service upon an erring elective local official may be decreed only by a court.

Thus, in Salalima, et al. vs. Guingona, et al., the Supreme Court held that “[t]he Office of the President is without any power to remove elected officials since such power is exclusively vested in the proper courts as expressly provided for in the last paragraph of the afore-quoted Section 60.”

So, another 15 days until we put an end to the hiccups!

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Author’s email: [email protected]

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