Councilor Elgin Damasco has resigned as chair of the City Council transportation committee amidst the heated issue on banning tricycles on national roads in Puerto Princesa and openly challenged councilor Peter Maristela to succeed him and take responsibility.
Damasco, during his privileged speech before the City Council on Monday, said that he was “embarrassed in front of guests” whom he pertained to as “President Duterte’s alter ego”.
“Napahiya ako sa mga bisita natin mula sa national government dahil sa tinuran ni Councilor Maristela na hindi tayo pwedeng magpadikta,” he said.
Damasco cried foul and was emotional as he pointed out that Alberto Suansing, associate secretary of Department of Transportation (DOTr), even asked for a copy of the video and transcripts during the public consultation for reasons “he doesn’t know about”.
Maristela remained mum on the open challenge by Damasco and instead focused on “talking about possible solutions” in line with the looming threat of law enforcement authorities going full swing on the implementation of the trike ban in the city.
“Hindi ko na sasagutin si Councilor Damasco. Itong order ng Department of the Interiors and Local Government (DILG), based on the memorandum circular issued by Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), ay pinagaaralan pa mismo ni Mayor Bayron. He referred it to the Sanggunian Panlungsod (SP) at hindi agad ipina-implement”, Maristela said.
The law enforcement agencies including Philippine National Police (PNP), Highway Patrol Group (HPG), and Land Transportation Office (LTO) are set to implement the ban starting February 15, allowing the City Council 45 days from the deadline to enact on certain exemptions.
However, the city ordinance remains at the Committee of the Whole’s table as it underwent its first public deliberation on Saturday, pending schedule for the second consultation.
Lawyer-councilors Herbert Dilig and Nesario Awat pointed out the Supreme Court (SC) ruling on LTO vs City of Butuan, a case Damasco kept on waving as precedence, was mere “obiter dicta” or opinions expressed by the high court justices not specifically pertaining on the matter at hand.
The councilors, on the other hand, lauded Damasco’s persistence on facing public scrutiny, through his expertise in media, on explaining the “burden” and the nitty-gritty details circling around the national law on trike ban along national roads.
The ball remained on the City Council’s arena as the second public consultation is yet to be scheduled.