Detained Baldo appoints ally councilor as Daraga OIC mayor
MANILA, Philippines – Carlwyn Baldo, the Daraga mayor alleged to be the brains behind the assassination of AKO Bicol Representative Rodel Batocabe has appointed an ally as a temporary replacement as he spends time in detention.
In a January 22 memorandum written by Baldo and obtained by Rappler, he appointed Daraga’s number 5 councilor and vice mayor bet Joey Marcellana as the officer-in-charge of Daraga, Albay, effective the same day.
“In the exigency of the service, and due to the succeeding occurring events which have been very taxing physically and mentally to undersigned leading to eventual hospitalization for life-threatening condition, you are hereby designated Officer-in-Charge,” read the memo addressed to Marcellana.
Marcellana is known among government employees as an ally of Baldo, despite running under different parties in the 2019 polls.
Through his order, Baldo skipped the line of succession as he did not appoint his vice mayor Victor Perete, one of Baldo’s opponents in the coming May elections for the mayoralty of Daraga aside from the slain Batocabe.
Baldo still wants to be mayor, though. In another memorandum obtained by Rappler, Baldo said that he was still the town's mayor despite his earlier memorandum.
“On the basis of my constitutional presumption of innocence as suspect… I am directing all Department Heads, Chief of Offices and other personnel concerned to perform their office function normally,” read the memorandum signed by Baldo a day after the first one.
He added: “All documents that require my signature should therefore be signed by the undersigned.”
This has left Daraga local government employees confused as who they should turn to for the management of their municipality. To add to the confusion, Daraga has already been placed under the control of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) as early as January 15.
As of press time, Baldo remains under police custody after cops found illegal firearms and ammunition inside his residential compound in Daraga on the afternoon of January 22. He is currently staying at the University of Santo Tomas Hospital in Legazpi City after he suffered an asthma attack hours into detention.
Is this allowed? According to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), it is not.
In a phone interview with Rappler on Wednesday, January 23, DILG spokesman and assistant secretary Jonathan Malaya pointed to Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code, which only provides one condition for OIC appointment: travel.
“When the incumbent local chief executive is traveling within the country but outside his territorial jurisdiction for a period not exceeding three (3) consecutive days, he may designate in writing the officer-in-charge of the said office,” states Section 46 of the law.
Baldo, on the other hand, is detained by cops without certainty how much longer he will be outside his office.
What happens next? It is now up to the DILG whether to declare if Baldo is incapacitated as a mayor, forcing the rule of succession to be followed.
As of now, the DILG still recognizes Baldo as the mayor. However, the Daraga Comelec will ask for clarification how to move foward given Baldo's memos. (READ: Baldo behind bars is still Daraga mayor – DILG Bicol)
“For now, we will wait for the advise of [cops] for the updates on his case,” Malaya said.
Baldo can still return to office as mayor, provided that he be allowed to post bail and leave his detention cell for the illegal possession of firearms complaint against him.
He is currently set for inquest to determine whether his warrantless arrest was valid and if the case should go to court. He missed the first of the inquest proceedings because of his hospital confinement.
Baldo is also facing double murder and multiple frustrated murded charges before the Albay Provincial Prosecutor, but that will only cost him his post as mayor if the cases reach the court and a judge orders for his arrest. – Rappler.com