SPECIAL REPORT by JOENALD MEDINA RAYOS
BATANGAS Capitol — SOME members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan was dismayed on the action of the Human Resource and Management Office (HRMO) of the Province of Batangas and of the Office of the Provincial Administrator with regards to the unconfirmed appointment of Katrin Erika A. Buted as head of the Provincial Tourism and Cultural Affairs Office (PTCAO), considering the developments that unfolded in the past weeks.
While is true that the Civil Service Commission (CSC) has the final say on the appointments of government employees and officials, certain processes and rules on procedures must also be considered.
The Board was dismayed that the HRMO has allegedly submitted to the CSC the appointment of Buted with the notation of the Provincial Administrator who said that the SP failed to act on the appointment as the 15-day period provided in the Local Government Code has already lapsed.
On the other hand, the minutes of the SP’s session of January 22 when the resolution of denying concurrence of the appointment was passed was approved only that day’s session (January 29).
In her manifestation during the 5th regular session of the SP on Monday, January 29, Senior Board Member Ma. Claudette U. Ambida of the 2nd District of Batangas said that HRMO should have considered the processes and procedure in the Sanggunian.
Here’s the part of her privilege speech:
“I will be speaking to seek clarification and express concerns regarding certain developments in the recent proceedings concerning the appointment of Miss Katrin Buted as the Department Head of Tourism Office, as deliberated by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP).
To provide a concise overview of the events in question:
1. An Endorsement letter dated Jan. 2, 2024, from the Governor expressed support for Ms. Katrin Buted’s candidacy for the Department Head position.
Our session is every Monday and since Monday falls on January 1 which is a holiday the rule is that the session will be the following day, ‘No quorum’ was declared that day meaning no session was held;,at the same time the submission of documents were stamped January 2, 4:58 PM which basically means this will be included in the agenda the following session which is January 8.
2. Ms. Jaida Castillo subsequently filed last Jan. 5 an appeal to review the documents engaging in a discussion that questioned the qualifications of Ms. Buted for the aforementioned role.
3. The SP convened a hearing on January 12 to delve into the matter. Recognizing the need for additional documentation to fully address the concerns raised, a (second) committee meeting was scheduled for January 19, 2024 as requested by BM Fred Corona and agreed by the Chair BM (Roman Junjun) Rosales. This subsequent session was attended by representatives from HR, Admin Head, Legal Dept, and various Board Members.
4. Following these hearings and meetings, the regular session last January 22, the members of SP issued a resolution denying concurrence on Ms. Buted’s appointment for lack of votes citing the deliberations and arguments presented during the proceedings and all were put in record…”
Ambida also questions Provincial Administrator Wilfredo Racelis’ inconsistency of action with regard to the procedure on how the SP acted on Buted’s appointment.
“First, I would like to direct your attention to the provision stated by Mr. Racelis, to wit: ‘Section 463 (d) of Local Government Code: “Unless otherwise provided herein, heads of departments and offices shall be appointed by the governor with the concurrence of the majority of all the Sangguniang Panlalawigan members, subject to civil service law, rules and regulations. 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..”
Be it duly acknowledged that during the regular session of the SP on January 8, 2024, the Letter of Appointment from the Honorable Governor (Hermilando) Mandanas, dated January 2, 2024 seeking for SP’s concurrence for the appointment of Ms. Katrin Buted was promptly brought forth. In response, the SP immediately referred the case for a hearing that was set on January 12, 2024.
The aforementioned hearing, attended by the aspirant Ms. Katrin Buted, a representative from the Human Resources department, and other relevant departments within the SP Batangas, addressed the issue at hand. However, due to insufficient records to resolve the matter, SP requested several documents and set another meeting as also as requested to decide on this.
Contrary to Mr. Racelis’s position, it is imperative to clarify that the matter was actively acted upon as early as January 8, 2024, with subsequent hearing and meeting on January 12 and 19 respectively thereby refuting any contention suggesting otherwise. Although the resolution was issued only on January 22, it is crucial to underscore that the Sangguniang Panlalawigan engaged with the matter within the prescribed 15-day period, as mandated by the relevant provision of the code. Consequently, the argument asserting the deemed confirmation of the appointment due to an alleged failure to act within the stipulated timeframe is hereby contradicted by the timely and thorough proceedings undertaken by the SP.
Second, granting arguendo for the sake of argument that it was deemed confirmed and granting that the CSC’s rule on the 15-day period for the SP to confirm or deny concurrence to the appointment IS A HARD AND FAST RULE, that the compulsory processes stated in our IRP (like the schedule of our Regular Session, referral to appropriate committee, committee hearing, report, VOTING, and approval of the appropriate Resolution) MUST be set aside and disregarded so that the 15 days will not lapse, WHAT IS THE EFFECT OF THE PARTICIPATION of the The Provincial Administrator and HR Office in all the SP proceedings? Why participate if the HR knows that the 15-day period accepts NO EXCEPTİON?
Is the HR fully aware of its own rules? The 15-day period is there in their books thus willingly submitted to the SP proceedings, NOT EVEN ONCE MENTIONING OR HINTING US ON THE 15-day period rule. Or could it be that the HR remembers the 15-day period rule and perhaps reserved it as an “ace up her sleeve”?
I am inquiring about the potential idea that Mr. Racelis may be estopped in arguing such contention.
During the hearing on January 19, Mr. Racelis ha the opportunity to assert that the appointment was deemed confirmed (already). However, rather than taking this stance at that time, he remained silent on the matter. Mr. Racelis actively participated in the proceedings, presenting arguments and contributing to the decision-making process in the hope of securing a favorable outcome for KB’s appointment.
Given the subsequent issuance of a resolution by the SP, which had an adverse effect on the desired outcome, there seems to be an inconsistency between Mr. Racelis’s current assertion and his participation during the earlier stages. It appears that, upon receiving an unfavorable decision, Mr. Racelis may have distanced himself from the process in which he actively engaged.
I want to emphasize that this inquiry is only motivated by a commitment to promoting justice and fairness in the resolution of this matter. While I respect Mr. Racelis’s dedication to serving in line with the Governor’s decisions, it is crucial to ensure consistency in respecting the process that he participated with the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and other departments involved.
I would greatly appreciate your guidance and clarification on the two inquiries I observed in this topic. Your insights will assist us not only for the resolution of the current case but will also contribute significantly to our approach in handling future cases as we wish to avoid establishing any precedents that may compromise the principle of justice and fairness.”
Some of the members of the SP share the same sentiments with Ambida and that the Board then ruled that the matter discussed by Ambida will be brought up to the Civil Service Commission and to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) – Office of Legal Affairs for their opinion.
As of press time, Buted remains occupying the coveted position while the search for truth and clarifications continues on the appointment brouhaha that is still being followed by spectators in the capitol.|