While VG Zubiri is away, who should preside in the provincial board?

MALAYBALAY CITY  (Bukidnon News/03 November) The Bukidnon Sangguniang Panlalawigan has called on Commission on Elections Bukidnon election supervisor Lordino Salvaña to shed light on an issue left when Vice Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr. took a leave of absence for his United States trip.

Who should be the provincial board’s acting presiding officer and acting vice governor?

First district board member Clive Quiño has been appointed by the vice governor to be the temporarily presiding officer. Zubiri has previously asked Quiño to preside whenever he needs to exit from the session.

Sec. 44 of the Local Government Code, which provides for vacancies and successions in the local government, stated that “ranking in the sanggunian shall be determined on the basis of the proportion of votes obtained by each winning candidate to the total number of registered voters in each district in the immediately preceding local election.”

By order of succession, the board member with the highest number of votes garnered should temporarily take over. The Code, however, provides for this only for permanent, not temporary vacancies.

Quiño topped the provincial board members’ electoral race in his district in 2010. Using the Sec. 44 formula, Quiño should be next in rank to the vice governor.

But another school of thought says it could be proportion of the votes garnered as against election turnout or those who actually voted among those who registered in the 2010 elections, board member Jay Albarece told Bukidnon News.

If this rule will be used, then the highest ranking board member is lawyer Nemesio Beltran Jr, who is the current majority floor leader.

So, which rule should be used?

To answer this question, provincial board members have asked for Salvaña to be present in their regular session on November 9.

Beltran have opted for Salva to just issue a certification. Albarece prevailed when he said the certification can be issued after Salvana’s appearance. Besides, he added, other members should be able to pose questions.  He said they sought the Comelec’s word instead of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), because the poll body has the official figures of the 2011 elections.

The details why the SP called Salvaña were not elaborated in the session on November 3. But Bukidnon News sources said the issue emerged in an informal closed door discussion.

The question first caught attention on their October 26 regular session, when both Quiño and Beltran arrived late. Colleagues were about to declare lack of quorum when they arrived. His colleagues voted for Board member Ranulfo Pepito to temporarily preside.

Zubiri is in the United States where he said he will accompany his wife, Ma. Victoria (or “Vicky”), for medical procedures, a leave of absence in the midst of an investigation by the Commission on Audit of a graft complaint against him.

The vice governor said earlier he has to be the one to accompany his ailing wife in this trip.

He said he plans to fly to US on Oct. 21 and will file a leave of absence starting from his date of departure until his expected return on Nov. 14.

As of November 3, board members said Zubiri will return to the provincial board on November 23. (Walter I. Balane/Bukidnon News)

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