No vice gov in N. Vizcaya as execs leave for abroad
BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya–This province may be operating without a vice governor for the next two weeks as its top officials leave for a foreign travel to Spain leaving a trail of confusion among designated caretakers at the provincial capitol.
Acting governor Edgardo Balgos, the senior provincial board member, on Tuesday issued a memorandum designating as vice governor “the one qualified” among the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, saying he had no legal basis to name a temporary occupant of the post.
“This is a new scenario for us. I myself am not sure who I should designate as vice governor,” said Balgos, who was tasked as acting governor in lieu of Gov. Luisa Cuaresma.
Cuaresma, along with five other provincial officials, left for Spain on Tuesday to attend events in relation to a twinning agreement between the Nueva Vizcaya government and that of Biskaya province in Spain’s Basque country, Balgos said.
Catholic Bishop Ramon Villena has reportedly left on a separate trip to personally receive a donation from the Biskaia government for the construction of an indigenous peoples hospital here.
The trip has caused a vacancy in the province’s two highest positions, with Vice Gov. Jose Gambito joining Cuaresma for the Spain trip, which, Balgos said, may last for at least ten days.
Documents showed that Cuaresma designated Gambito on Jan. 16, pursuant to the Local Government Code which mandates that in the absence of the governor for travel outside the country, the vice governor shall assume the post.
But since Gambito was joining the trip, he designated Balgos, the senior board member, to assume as acting governor, leaving the vice governor’s post vacant.
Balgos said he has consulted the Local Government Code and found that it did not provide for a rule on who should assume as vice governor in case of vacancies in the two highest positions in the provincial government.
“I could have readily named who the acting vice governor is but I have no legal basis. There was yet no official proclamation on who is second in rank after me,” he said.
As of the board’s regular session on Wednesday, the position, which is also as presiding officer of the board, remained vacant. Documents for the vice governor’s signature has been piling up at the desk, staff members said.
But minority members of the board blamed Balgos for supposedly issuing a memorandum, failing to specify the name of the board member who he is designating to take on the vice gubernatorial post.
In his memo, Balgos said: “the one qualified among (the board members) with appropriate documents should now assume as the acting vice governor until the return of the governor and/or vice governor.”
Board Member Patricio Dumlao, minority leader, said they have come to a consensus that board member Filma Dulay-Perez, the second-ranking SP member based on the official numbers of votes garnered in the 2007 elections, would not take the risk of assuming as vice governor.
“We have consulted with the (Department of Interior and Local Government) and they said that (Balgos’) letter does not state who will sit as acting governor. We have no authority to say who should take the post because without an official designation from the acting governor, we might be for usurpation of authority,” he said.
Sought for comment, Dulay-Perez said she “would not be too excited” to sit as vice governor in the absence of an official designation.
“This is clearly about politics. They know that I am supposed to be acting vice governor but they would not make such designation, even to the detriment of the province’s services to the people,” she said.