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Executive vs Legislative: ‘The 15-day period lapsed already’, Racelis told SP

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Special Report by Joenald Medina Rayos

BATANGAS Capitol – BARELY a day passed after the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) denied to concur the appointment of Katrin Erika A. Buted as department of the Batangas Provincial Tourism and Cultural Affairs Office (PTCAO), Provincial Administrator Wilfredo Racelis now challenges the SP’s action.

In a letter dated January 23 and addressed to the Honorable Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Racelis said the SP failed to act on time as mandated by law and that the period has lapsed already when the SP denied Buted’s confirmation.

Racelis said that the Office of the Governor, thru the Provincial Human Resources and Management Office, received a Certification that the Sangguniang Panlalawigan ng Batangas passed Resolution No. 108 Year 2024 entitled: RESOLUTION DENYING THE REQUEST FOR THE CONCURRENCE ON THE APPOINTMENT OF MS. KATRIN ERIKA BUTED AS PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENT HEAD (TOURISM OFFICER OF THE PROVINCIAL TOURISM AND CULTURAL AFFAIRS OFFICE IN THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT OF BATANGAS, during its Fourth Regular Session held on 22 January 2024.

However, the executive department is questioning the timing of the action of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, which to their mind is an action in futility as it was allegedly done beyond the time allowed by Section 463 (d) Local Government Code that provides, among others, that “.. the Sangguniang Panlalawigan shall act on the appointment within fifteen (15) days from the date of its submission; otherwise the same shall be deemed confirmed;” (emphasis supplied)

“The Letter Appointment from the Honorable Governor Mandanas requesting the concurrence for the appointment of Ms. Buted as Tourism Officer was dated 02 January 2024 and was received by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan on the same date. Please be informed that considering the Sangguniang Panlalawigan acted only on 22 January 2024, the fifteen (15) days period has already lapsed, and the appointment of Ms. Buted is considered confirmed under the law,” Racelis said in the letter.

But Racelis himself has attended the second Committee Hearing ot the SP’s Sangguniang Panlalawigan last January 19, 2024 and has actively participated thereat, pointing among others, that the appointment of Buted is anchored on the trust and confidence of the governor. 

The Letter of Appointment was received by the SP Secretariat on January 2, and acted on it by having it calendared as matter to be discussed in the Business of the Day in SP’s regular session on January 8, Monday. It was referred to the Committee on Human Resource on the same session for proper studies. The first hearing was held January 12, Friday.

Meanwhile, another applicant to the position, Ms. Jaida Castillo, appealed to the SP to review the documents submitted by Buted. Also on the same hearing, members of the Sanggunian noticed some concerns on the information given by the appointee on her data sheet. It was also in this hearing that appointee Buted, 28, single, affirmed that she has already served in the PTCAO but has resigned effective January 2023 due to some physical and mental health problems associated with her pregnancy.

Then, the SP asked the Human Resource and Management Office (HRMO) for copies of Buted’s Individual Performance Commitment and Review Form (IPCR) covering several years of her service to the government.

With some of the questions remain unanswered and some things need clarification, the Committee called for another hearing on January 19. The hearing was attended by Atty. Ferdinand Maneja of the Provincial Legal Office, HR asst. department head Donna Bicol, and Administrator Racelis. Buted and Personnel Selection Board (PSB) head Ma. Isabel Bejasa did not attend the hearing.

The legal representatives pointed out that the corrurence of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan on the appointment made by the executive is not ministerial in nature but also afforded with some degree of discretion.

Observers in the capitol is wondering now that Mr. Racelis who attended and participated in the hearing of Janauary 19 is now questioning the timing of the passage of the resolution that was deliberated after careful study and series of hearings.

Counting from January 2, the day that the executive transmitted the Letter of Appointment to the SP, the SP acted on it by having it calendared for the Session on January 8. January 16 is the 15th calendar days since the LoA was received by the SP. Granting that the period by which the SP has to ‘act’ on the appointment lapsed after January 16, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan heared nothing about it, instead, all the resource persons participated in the hearing of January 19.

As of this writing, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan has not issued a statement yet on the matter.|

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