BM Flores twits PA Banias on nylon shell ordinance row

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan should not be misled into believing that it has the power to nullify a municipal ordinance on the basis of a complaint filed by a barangay-based group in Concepcion, Iloilo as its power is limited to determining whether or not its enactment was within the powers of the legislative body, Iloilo board member Gerardo Flores said Wednesday, March 16.

In a privilege speech before the regular session of the provincial board, Flores also chided Iloilo Provincial Administrator Raul Banias for dipping his fingers into the affairs of Concepcion, Iloilo as his actions smack of a “conflict of interest” because he has a fish trading business based in that LGU.

“Let us not coat our hidden intentions with intricate but wrong interpretation and application of the law and think that people below and above us will just always be ignorant enough to abide without question,” Flores said.

Citing annotations made by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago in the book, “Local Government Annotated”, Flores pointed out that the only ground by which a municipal ordinance may be stricken down by the provincial board as invalid is that the Sangguniang Bayan (municipal council) acted beyond the powers granted to it by law.

“Absolutely no other ground is recognized by the law,” Flores said, citing Senator Santiago. “If the provincial board passes these limits, it usurps the legislative function of the municipal council,” he added, quoting the Senator.

Flores made these declarations in the wake of the directives made by Banias, who was a three-term municipal mayor of Concepcion, Iloilo, for the Provincial Bantay Dagat to apprehend nylon shell divers who were issued permits for the harvesting of the marine product.

Banias insisted that a new ordinance enacted by the Concepcion SB on January 31, 2011 is not yet effective pending its review by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. He threatened to order the arrest of nylon shell divers who, in his words, will defy an old ordinance which he claimed banned all fishing activities in the municipal waters.

Concepcion municipal mayor Milliard Villanueva questioned the actions of Banias, saying there is nothing illegal about the harvesting of nylon shells as it was being done pursuant to Municipal Ordinance No. 2011-03. The ordinance imposes strict regulations on the manner and volume of the nylon shells to be harvested after paying the corresponding permit fees, he said.

“The municipal ordinance is well within our prerogatives to determine how to manage our coastal resources, and it is now in full force and effect after the 10-day publication period,” Villanueva said. He added that a municipal ordinance is deemed valid and effective even while it undergoes review by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

In his privilege speech, Flores also accused Banias of unethical and improper behaviour in disclosing a report linking four members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to illegal fishing activities. “It puzzled me that Dr. Banias did not observe proper protocol by releasing information derogatory to a subordinate organization,” Flores said.

Flores revealed that even Police Senior Supt. Gil Lebin, Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) director, was surprised when he heard about the Banias allegation about the involvement of the four policemen in illegal fishing.

“The fact that Dr. Banias pre-empted the PNP was an indication that he wanted to do things singlehandedly even though enforcement is more the concern of the municipal government and the police,” he said. “It is never good to put yourself up by putting other people down,” he added.

Flores warned his colleagues in the provincial board not to “show even an iota of willingness to be influenced by him (Banias), lest we flush ourselves down a deep pitfall.”

He pointed out that the law “does not empower us to make value judgment on legislations and executive issuances — on whether these are good or bad local laws or policies — except the power to determine whether or not they are beyond the powers of the LGU.”

Flores asked Banias to show delicadeza by inhibiting himself from law enforcement on an industry where has clear vested interest and by minimizing doubts on the political nature of his motives and actuations. (30)

About Manuel "Boy" Mejorada
Manuel "Boy" Mejorada is a journalist and social media activist. A former Iloilo provincial administrator, he is now waging a crusade against corruption and narco-politics.

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