Legal help for sued City Hall employees, Barangay officials sought

BAGUIO CITY   –  Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan wants to ensure that rank-and-file city government employees and barangay officials are given legal assistance when sued while in performance of their official functions.

In his proposed ordinance, the vice mayor seeks the help of the City Legal Office for the provision of legal counselling, preparation of relevant pleadings, representation to the courts/tribunals/quasi-judicial bodies/other special bodies, and other legal assistance to barangay officials and city government employees.

Barangay officials include elected officials, appointed secretaries, appointed treasurers, tanods, health workers, barangay nutrition action officers, and barangay human rights action officers.

The ordinance shall not apply if the case is between or among barangay officials, city officials, and/or employees and if there is a projected conflict of interest clearly identified by the concerned office.

The budgetary requirements shall be formulated by the City Legal Office and shall be incorporated in the yearly budget of the said office subject to accounting/auditing rules and to the approval of the Sangguniang Panlungsod. The city legal officer shall coordinate with the city budget officer for the fund allocation within five days from the approval of the ordinance.   

Likewise, the City Legal Office shall be tasked to prepare the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the ordinance.

Olowan invoked Section 458 of the Local Government Code or Republic Act No. 7160 which mandates the Sangguniang Panlungsod to “provide legal assistance to barangay officials who in the performance of their official duties or on occasion thereof  have to initiate judicial proceedings or defend themselves against legal action.”

The same law states that the city legal officer shall perform other functions and exercise other powers subject to local legislation.

The vice mayor stressed there is no specific provision of the code prohibiting the City Legal Office from representing the city government’s rank-and-file employees sued by virtue of their official functions.

Rank-and-file employees are those who are not in any managerial positions.

The proposed ordinance was approved on first reading and was referred to the Committee on Ethics, Governmental Affairs and Personnel for further study. -Jordan G. Habbiling