By Mortz C. Ortigoza
BINALONAN – Most of the members of the Sangguniang Bayan (legislative council) here are geared to suspend Councillor Ryan Gotoc because of his absenteeism.
According to Council Member Josie Caburnay out of the 23 legislative sessions this year Gotoc attended only 11 regular and special sessions.
What broke the proverbial back of the camel according to the councillors was when Gotoc committed four successive absences that ran smack to the Local Government Code (LGC) and the Internal Rules of Procedure (IRP) of the council.
The LGC and the IRP provide for the discipline of members for disorderly behaviour and absences without justifiable cause for four consecutive sessions, for which they may be censured, reprimanded, or excluded from the session, suspended for not more than sixty days, or expelled. Provided, that the penalty of expulsion shall require the concurrence of at least two-thirds (2/3) vote of all the sanggunian members.
Councillors Bonifacio Calip said that Gotoc could not just at his vagary commits two absences and attend a session then commit the same number of absences that become a vicious cycle.
“You should be ashamed to us who regularly attended the sessions,” Calip told Gotoc in a special session here last Friday.
“It is unfair for us who were sworn to the Internal Rules of Procedures while a colleague did not respect the importance of the Rules, “argued by League of Barangays President and Ex-Oficio Council Member Jerry Aradanas, who delivered a privilege speech in July 27 denouncing Gotoc, in the special session last Friday.
Gotoc said that aside from his medical certifications that he was sick twice thus his absences, he was too busy ferrying sick people here by driving an ambulance to the Region-1 Medical Center in Dagupan City.
But Mayor Ramon “MonMon”Guico III, who was invited by Vice Mayor Melicio Patague II and the council, would not buy the alibi of Gotoc, his first cousin, and instead lectured him.
He said his hectic schedules were not a justification that he would not attend his function as legislator whose function is to attend the session every Monday of the week.
“True, marami tayong mga pasyente diyan, but first and foremost you are here to legislate as member of the Sangguniang Bayan, you are paid to legislate for the town, you are not paid by the patients, you are not paid to coordinate with the regional hospital”.
The mayor cited his being busy too but he saw to it that he complied with his functions and not just seat eight hours a day in his office thumb twiddling.
“I am here to set the direction of the town and set more connection and bring more investors. You cannot do those eight hours a day in your office. My recent accomplishment of 20,000 Euro (almost one million Philippine Peso a year - MCO) in our five years partnership with Belgium. Magagawa ko ba iyan kung nakikipag-inuman ako eight hours a day?” he posed.
He upbraided Gotoc on his patent skipping of the sessions by citing many occasions on the official photo taking during the fiesta celebration of the members of the August Chamber and the mayor.
‘As a local executive pinapakita natin na magkaka-isa tayo pero even during the fiesta one of the councillors will not seat in the presidential table. There is a very thin line in serving the public and politicking. Sana naman sa ganoong panahon na official function ipakita natin na buo tayong council beyond political colours. May isa ang nawawala nag didistribute ng alak during fiesta. Ano namumulitika na? You should know what public service is, you should know the job description of the Sangguniang Bayan”.
The mayor said he was not only speaking in the absenteeism of the member of the council but also the same offenses of the members of the executive department where he summoned its heads and employees to witness the last Friday’s session.
“But I think this has created the awareness for everybody to really check what is loyalty to his duty and responsibility kasi kung minsan papasok diyan iyong mga ta-o, papatawag mo umuwi na! Dapat ang time-in and time-out doon maski lunch time ila-log ninyo kung hindi niyo na kaya mag retire na lang tayo! Mag na resign na lang tayo!” the mayor said.
He said workers at the executive department could not accused politicians of corruption because they themselves are guilty of it because of their absenteeism.
A source, who asked anonymity, confided to this paper that on August 3 session, the SB would decide if they have to suspend Gotoc.