LGUs in the Philippines

‘You’re not the queen here!’ Shouting matches mar Cagayan de Oro council session

Herbie Gomez
‘You’re not the queen here!’ Shouting matches mar Cagayan de Oro council session

TENSE. Cagayan de Oro councilors during their tension-filled session on Monday, July 11.

Herbie Gomez/Rappler

Vice Mayor Jocelyn Rodriguez and Cagayan de Oro councilors engage in a verbal tussle over basic rules governing the city council sessions
‘You’re not the queen here!’ Shouting matches mar Cagayan de Oro council session

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Political partisanship reared its ugly head as a misunderstanding on authority and basic parliamentary rules marred the second session of Cagayan de Oro’s 20th city council on Monday afternoon, July 11.

The session was characterized by shouting matches between councilors and the city’s new vice mayor, Jocelyn Rodriguez.

The heated exchange began when Rodriguez refused to recognize the city council’s majority floor leader, Councilor Ian Mark Nacaya, despite his pleas to be allowed to speak.

‘Sit down!’

When other members of the city council majority raised a point of order, Rodriguez asserted that she was the vice mayor and ordered the councilors to sit down.

“Sit down. You are not recognized. Sit down!” Rodriguez told Councilor Roger Abaday who stood up to raise a point of order.

Abaday told Rodriguez, “You have to follow parliamentary rules, madam chair.”

VICE MAYOR. Cagayan de Oro Vice Mayor Jocelyn ‘Bebot’ Rodriguez asserts that she may or may not allow councilors to speak during their sessions. (Herbie Gomez/Rappler)

In parliamentary proceedings, a point of order may be raised even when another member is speaking, and it obliges the chairperson to address the query on proper procedures. The presiding officer may rule on it or submit it to the assembly for a decision.

“Yes, madam chair. You are the vice mayor, madam chair,” Abaday said before he went back to his seat, frustrated that Rodriguez kept on asserting that she can choose to allow or disallow councilors from taking the floor.

‘Water under the bridge’

Abaday later told Rappler that he merely wanted to question why Rodriguez was allowing a member of the city council minority to belabor questions on the floor about the composition of the legislature’s committees when the matter was already settled and approved.

Abaday said, “That, to me, was already water under the bridge.”

Rodriguez told Rappler that the city council minority merely resented why members of the majority had multiple city council committees to chair. She complained that only one unwanted committee was given to a member of the minority as a mock consolation.

“We are not asking for the major committees. We just want a few committees to chair so we would have something to work on,” Rodriguez said.

Nacaya told a news conference later that the city council majority was not yet confident that the minority members would help push Mayor Rolando Uy’s legislative agenda.

Point of order

With Abaday giving up on Rodriguez during the session, a more senior local legislator, Councilor Edgar Cabanlas, took over and insisted that the vice mayor address the query about procedures.

“Point of order, madam chair, please, point of order. ‘Point of order’ does not require the recognition of the chair. What the chair must say is, ‘What is the point of order?'” Cabanlas lectured Rodriguez.

IMPROMPTU LECTURER. Seasoned Cagayan de Oro Councilor Edgar Cabanlas after daring to tell Vice Mayor Jocelyn Rodriguez that she is ‘not a queen,’ and that there are parliamentary rules that govern meetings. (Herbie Gomez/Rappler)

Rodriguez blurted as she ordered Cabanlas to return to his seat, “I am the presiding officer! I must be followed! I am the presiding officer! You be the vice mayor, and then I will follow you!”

But Cabanlas snapped and continued lecturing Rodriguez at the top of his voice. He exclaimed: “Madam chair, you are not the city council; we are the city council – we can overrule you! You have to rule on the point of order; you cannot just ignore that! You are not the vice mayor here; you are the presiding officer here! The presiding officer is different from the vice mayor – remember that! You are not the queen here!”

Bad blood

Cabanlas told reporters that he protested Rodriguez’s tendency to ignore questions about parliamentary procedures and prevent Nacaya, the city council’s majority floor leader, from speaking.

Rodriguez and Nacaya are longtime bitter political foes, and their history of bad blood can be traced back to vote-rich Nazareth where they served as barangay chairperson on separate occasions.

BAD BLOOD. The city council’s majority floor leader, Councilor Ian Mark Nacaya, has a long history of clashing with Vice Mayor Jocelyn Rodriguez and her family in vote-rich Nazareth, the political bailiwick of the Rodriguezes. (Herbie Gomez/Rappler)

Councilors said there was a growing resentment toward Rodriguez over the way she has been flaunting her powers as vice mayor down to petty matters that were seen as gloating and deliberate acts meant to taunt members of the city council majority.

“Tyrannical,” said Councilor Joyleen Mercedes “Girlie” Balaba when asked about how she felt about the way the city’s new vice mayor has been dealing with the city council majority.

‘Bullied and hurt’

On Tuesday morning, July 12, Rodriguez told Magnum Radio that she was surprised and hurt by what she called Cabanlas’ “disrespect” toward her, being a woman and the vice mayor at that.

Rodriguez also maintained that she may or may not recognize any councilor on the floor as she wishes based on the city council’s house rules.

A night before, she told Rappler that the city council majority was bullying the minority bloc and that its members have gotten used to doing things their way because they had the numbers for years.

Rodriguez said she and former councilor and now Cagayan de Oro 1st District Representative Lordan Suan were treated badly by Mayor Uy’s allies when they served as members of the city council for three years during the last term of then-mayor Oscar Moreno.

Uy and Moreno are political allies.

Stronger minority

From two, the city council minority’s members grew to six – including Rodriguez – after the May elections.

Still, the majority retained a dozen seats in the 18-person city council.

“There will be mistakes because this is a learning process. But I did the right thing yesterday, and I would stand my ground and continue doing what is right,” said Rodriguez.

A nurse by profession, Rodriguez started her political career as a barangay chairperson in the city’s 2nd District which her elder brother Rufus represents in the House of Representatives. – Rappler.com

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