ArchivesJune 2010Who'll sit as NegOr Gov in July?

Who’ll sit as NegOr Gov in July?

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Vice Governor-elect Agustin Perdices is preparing to assume as Governor of Negros Oriental on June 30 following a vacancy in the governorship with the death of Governor and governor-elect Emilio Macias II. {{more}}

Perdices announced his intention to assume the governorship in a telephone interview, after lawyers started airing differing views over whether the next governor would be Perdices or would be chosen by special election. {{more}}

“They’ll have to go to court to stop me,” Perdices said.

For Dean Mikhail Lee Maxino of the Silliman University College of Law, this is a very novel legal issue because there is yet no legal jurisprudence that squarely addresses this case. “The Local Government Code does not use those terms used in the Constitution in referring to the death or incapacity of the President-elect or the Vice President-elect. Rather, the LGC uses the term ‘elective’–not ‘elected’–local officials.”

“If you strictly understand the word elective, it refers to the office of governor, vice governor, etc. It assumes that there should be someone there who took an oath of office and something happened to him. The line of succession will not kick in if the governor-elect was unable to take his oath because there’s nobody in that office to be succeeded.”

Maxino said at the time the vacancy occurred, Vice-Governor-elect Agustin Perdices was still not the Vice Governor.

The second school of thought, Maxino continued, is that it will be Perdices who will become the full-fledged Governor. Succession, he said is when the vice-governor elect succeeds to the governor-elect who has died, failed to qualify, refused to assume office, or become permanently incapacitated.

He said section 8 of article X of the constitution providing the term of office of elective local officials at strictly three years has disallowed elective officials to stay in office on a “holdover” capacity after their term.

Another argument for succession, he said is section 44 of the Local Government Code. “This is broad enough to cover death before taking the oath of office.

Another law, section 4 of RA 2264, expanding local autonomy, provides that should the provincial governor-elect die or fail to quality, the provincial vice-governor elect becomes governor. “This was not expressly repealed by the local government code (RA 7160)”, Maxino said.

Finally, the omnibus election code does not provide for special elections for local elective positions. Thus, special elections was never contemplated precisely because sec 44 of the local government code and RA 2264 already cover the issue of succession created by the death of our governor, Maxino said.

City Legal Officer Neil Ray Lagahit, meanwhile, said that while there may yet be no Supreme Court ruling on the matter, the Department of Interior and Local Government, on several occasions, had already ruled in favor of the Vice Governor-elect or Vice Mayor-elect.

For Regional Court Administrator Rafael Cresencio Tan, there may be a need for a special election. “I will have to study the Local Government Code but there is an opinion by some lawyers and judges that the Comelec will have to issue a special resolution calling for a special election. But this would depend on whether the Comelec would call for it. He said the likely scenario, should his opinion be given weight, is that Perdices will take his oath as Vice Governor on June 30 and then take an oath as Acting Governor. The other elected officials will also take a second oath as acting officials for posts one rank higher.

While admitting that there are lawyers with different opinions, Rep. George Arnaiz said the next Governor would be Perdices. “It’s very simple — there’s no reason for him to be acting governor if there’s no governor to be sworn in. There’s already a law that provides for it. When there’s a vacancy existing in the office of the governor, the vice governor takes over. It doesn’t matter whether the governor-elect was able to take his oath or not because if he is able to take his oath and he dies, the same law will apply.”

MCTC Judge Antonio Alcantara, meanwhile, said the vice governor-elect will move up and assume the governorship, bringing up all the other elected officials one rank higher. “They will have to take two oaths of office on June 30–one for the position that they ran for and won and the other will be for the next higher position,” Alcantara said.

Provincial Election Supervisor Atty. Eddie Aba said that the new governor of Negros Oriental on June 30 will be Vice-Governor-elect Agustin Perdices and Provincial Board Member Roel Degamo as the new Vice Governor. This is because of the provision on vacancies and succession as outlined in the Local Government Code of 1991 and subsequent vacancies will the Sangguniang Panlalawigan shall be filled automatically by the other sangguniang members according to their ranking.

Baldado, meanwhile, had earlier filed a petition before the Commission on Elections shortly after the elections seeking to disqualify Gov. Emilio Macias II from running for re-election on account of his health. The petition is now pending with the Comelec. If the Comelec agrees to disqualify Macias even after his proclamation, that would make Baldado as the governor-elect.

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