2nd Quarter 2015 Regular National Executive Board Meeting of the Vice-Mayor’s League of the Philippines

7 May 2015

Thank you very much for that kind introduction.

The honorable Vice-Mayor Nicholas Yulo, the honorable Jose Veloso-Vice-Mayor of Tagbilaran, the honorable Soriano—VMLP Regional Chariman for Region II, the honorable Oligario-VMLP Vice President for Mindanao, the honorable Divina Grace Yu-VMLP P.R.O. for Mindanao, the honorable Jane Cecilia-VMLP Regional Chairman for CAR, the honorable Alota-VMLP Deputy Secretary for Mindanao, the honorable Ustades-VMLP Deputy Secretary General for Visayas, the honorable Dr. Nobasan-VMLP P.R.O for Luzon, all of the distinguished Vice Mayor who are here today, ladies and gentlemen, all the officers of the League, and the participants in this 2nd Quarter National Executive Board Meeting of VMLP, this year and in “The Academy of Presiding Officers”, other esteemed guests and friends, ladies and gentlemen.

Good evening to all of you.

Thank you very much for having me here to kick off your National Executive Board Meeting for this year, as well as your continuing education program, self-styled as “The Academy of Presiding Officers”.

Speaking of presiding officers, allow me to digress for a while and first express my apprehension at the sight of all the vice-mayors of our country assembled here in one gathering. Parang nakakabahala ata! Just imagine: with a multitude of vice-mayors of the country gathered in one place, we may have practically crippled the entire legislative processes in our cities and municipalities!

Unang-una, alam naman nating lahat na ang bise-alkalde ang siyang tumatayong ex officio presiding officer sa mga sessions ng Sanggunian. At ayon din sa desisyon ng Korte Suprema sa La Carlota City case noong 2012, kasama ang vice-mayor sa pagbibilang ng quorum para malaman kung maaaring tumuloy ang session ng Sanggunian at hindi maging null and void ang proceedings.

Ibig sabihin, posibleng hindi matuloy ang mga sessions ng Sanggunian kung wala si Vice-Mayor para mag-quorum. There could also be total chaos inside the session hall while the Vice-Mayor is away, pero sa experience ko kahit na may Vice-Mayor may chaos parin. Moreover, stalemates caused by important and debatable proposed ordinances could not possibly be resolved because the vice-mayor is not around to break the deadlock!

Pero hindi na bale. Mahalaga, itong inyong ginagawa ngayon at kailangan ay kayo ay magpatuloy ng pag uugnay at pag uusap at pag didiskusyon nang sa ganun ay mas maganda ang inyong gagampanan para sa inyong posisyon bilang Vice-Mayor.

But even this continuing education program of yours, for all its laudable objectives, could cause your Mayors a considerable degree of apprehension and give them an unsettling feeling. Baka dahil dito, kinakabahan ngayon at napapraning ang inyong mga Mayor sa kung anuman ang mga pinag-uusapan at pinag-aaralan ninyo rito! Baka naglalaro sa kanilang mga isipan: “Ano na naman kaya ang niluluto ni Vice?! Mukhang may pinagplanuhan yata!”

Pero alam ko naman ang ibig sabihin nyan dahil kahit ako ay hindi naging Vice-Mayor, ako ay naging Vice-Governor din kaya’t naiintindihan ko ang lugar at ang lagay ng isang Vice.

Seriously, we all are here for good and creditable reason. And on this note, allow me to extend my congratulations to the League for its industry and commitment to professionalism and continuing education.

The popular public perception with regard to the role of the Vice-Mayor in Philippine politics seems to be that they are just Mayors-in-waiting.

Kaya nga merong mga joke tungkol sa mga Vice-Mayors. Sabi nila ang pinaka mahalaga daw na katangian ng isang Vice-Mayor ay ang kanyang mahabang pasensya. With hopeful patience, they sit by waiting for the Mayor—waiting for him to do something wrong or to get sick or to die! Or in the language of the Local Government Code, to get “F.R.I.E.D.”, which of course means:

F – Fails to qualify

R – Resigns or is removed

I – Incapacitated

E – Elevated to higher office

D – Dies

But kidding aside, to debunk the erroneous and rather simplistic public perception, the Vice-Mayor in truth is vested with numerous and very important State functions under Local Government Code:

1)  Presiding officer and ex officio member of the Sanggunian, with tie-breaking voting rights;

2)  Limited administrative functions as finance officer of the Sanggunian;

3)  Appointing authority for Sanggunian officials and employees; and lastly,

4)  A Mayor-in-waiting.

As the presiding officer and ex officio member of the Sanggunian, the Vice-Mayor participates in the lawmaking process of the LGU. This in itself opens a universe of opportunities for public service for you, Vice-Mayor. Even as a mere quorum-provider, and with the singular opportunity to vote as a tie-breaker, the Vice-Mayor directly participates in the check-and-balance system of review of the ordinances of the Sanggunians as well as the executive orders of the Punong Barangays, all the revenue-creation and budget authorization, creation of important local offices and streamlining of official functions, civic and business regulation, and delivery of services to the constituents, and much, much more.

The Vice-Mayor also acts as the administrative head of the Sanggunian, as a particular unit or department in the local government unit. In this connection, the Vice-Mayor is also vested with limited appointing authority over Sanggunian officials and employees.

And finally, the Vice-Mayor is a “Mayor-in-waiting”. As I mentioned earlier, this is the most misunderstood and misinterpreted function of the Vice-Mayor. Akala ng publiko na ang Bise-Alkalde ay isa lamang “reserbang gulong” na ginagamit lamang kapag na-flat ang gulong ng sasakyan. On the contrary, more than a mere “spare tire”, the Vice-Mayor offers an entire possible range of services to their constituents.

Kaya naman napakahalaga na ang ating mga Bise-Alkalde, tulad ng lahat ng ating mga lingkod-bayan, ay patuloy na nagpapakadalubhasa sa kanilang mga sari-saring tungkulin at serbisyo-publiko. The subject matters that you have lined up in your training program for the next days—such as the importance of comprehensive land use plans (CLUPs), alam naman natin na ito ay inaantay ng ating National Government upang maka-gawa ng napaka importanteng plano para sa pag gamit ng lupain ng hindi lamang sa inyong mga lugar kundi sa buong Pilipinas. The value of information and communications technology in our legislative work, the practical necessity of codification—indeed, these are all topics of practical significance in our day-to-day work as members of our local legislatures.

Whatever you do here, you should always aim to promote the welfare of the public. Let us all be reminded that public welfare—not “pogi or ganda points”, not media mileage, and definitely not reelection—is the end-all and be-all of public service. After all, we were all elected by the people to be their representative, their voice, their leaders. In whatever we do as representatives of the people, the public trust should always be the overriding consideration. In your multifaceted duties and functions, multifarious relationships, affiliations and loyalties—personal, professional, political, business or otherwise—all of which we always have to balance, the public trust should be primordial. If this is all that you will do, then you will never go wrong and you will do a very good job.

For as long as you keep sacrosanct, the public trusts in whatever roles you play and functions you perform, you have the power and opportunity to make a difference in your communities. For example, in the realm of local legislation, while the Vice-Mayors may just have a limited voting right to break the tie in the Sanggunian, this tie-breaking vote could be that crucial “yea” or “nay” that can make or break a proposed ordinance. Your singular vote spells vast consequences to the public welfare. It’s your choice whether to be viewed by your constituents as a “People’s champion”, as a “fiscalizer”, or, alternatively, as a “go-with-the-flow” kind of guy, or, worse, as a lameduck or a mere “rubber stamp”.

In your administrative leadership roles in the Sanggunian, you have the authority to ensure and guarantee that the public is always involved and consulted, as well as the prioritization of urgent and pressing legislative concerns. As finance officer of the Sanggunian, you can also ensure that resources of the local government are used and spent wisely, and that the Sanggunian operates within the means of the LGU and is staffed with able and competent people.

Lastly, when you get the chance to succeed the Mayor who gets “F.R.I.E.D” or napirito—IF you are given that rare chance—you will likewise be faced with endless opportunities to pave your own way and stamp your own brand of public service and leadership.

When we took our oath as public officers and swore to uphold and defend the Constitution, to obey the laws, legal orders and decrees promulgated by the duly constituted authorities, to faithfully discharge to the best of our ability, the duties of our position, and to voluntarily impose upon ourselves this obligation, it all meant that we should first and foremost know all these by heart: the Constitution, the laws, orders and decrees, our duties and our functions.

By gaining more than mere casual or shallow familiarity of our laws, enriched by grassroots and hands-on knowledge at the local level, you get to develop an enviable expertise in the field of local governance, to the point that you acquire the ability to discover flaws and inefficiencies in our system, which you can, in turn, relay to us, your national legislators, for necessary improvement, or amendment, or addition, or reduction, or adjustment, fine tuning. In the process, you become dynamic partners in bringing about reforms in government that you have sworn to do as League members.

Such developed expertise will also be good in you personal life, your CVs, your resumes, as you continue to blaze your own career trails. Most of all, it will be good for public service and for your constituents, as your expertise certainly would cascade down and influence the work that you do in public service for your constituents, translating into the form of concrete and tangible benefits for your LGUs. Ultimately, all these are a contributor, a necessary contributor, to our nation building!

Kaya aking pinaaabot sa inyo hindi lamang ang aking pagbati, kundi pati na rin ang aking paghanga sa inyong Liga at sa inyong lahat!

Allow me to end on this note, as I send you off to a very inspired, meaningful and productive assembly and learning experience.

Mabuhay ang ating magagaling, magigiting at pasensyosong mga Bise-Alkalde ng ating bansa!

Mabuhay ang Vice-Mayors’ League of the Philippines (VMLP)!

Hanggang sa ating muling pagkikita!

Maraming salamat po at magandang gabi sa inyong lahat!

Dios ti agngina kadakayo amin!