President Rodrigo Duterte has given the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) the power to fill in certain temporary vacant positions in the local government to prevent paralysis of government operations.
In his Administrative Order (AO) No. 15, Duterte said due to the lack of provision in the Local Government Code, or the Republic Act (RA) No. 7160, on filling of temporary vacancies, rules on succession on permanent vacancies may also apply.
“There are instances when, despite the application of the modes of succession under RA 7160 or for reasons that the same cannot be applied, there remain vacant positions of elective local officials,” Duterte said in his AO.
“Vacancies may disrupt the delivery of basic services and may paralyze local government operation in such areas,” he continued.
Based on the AO, when the local chief executive (governor, city or municipal mayor, or punong barangay) is temporarily unable to perform his physical duties for legal reasons such as leave of absence, overseas travel, and suspension, the next highest ranking officials shall take over.
In case the next highest ranking officials are also unable to take over, the second highest ranking official shall automatically exercise the powers and perform the duties and functions of the local chief executive concerned.
However, the officials filling in the temporarily vacant position cannot appoint, suspend, or dismiss employees. The AO said this power may only be exercised if the period of temporary incapacity exceeds 30 working days.
When the vice-governor or vice-mayor is the one who cannot perform his duties temporarily for said legal reasons, the highest ranking member of the sanggunian will take over. If the highest ranking sanggunian members is unable to do so, the second highest ranking member shall be designated by the President, through the interior secretary or officer-in-charge (OIC-DILG).
Temporary vacancies in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Sangguniang Panlunsod, Sangguniang Bayan, and Sangguniang Barangay shall be filled by designation by the President only if the member concerned does not belong to any political party.
In case there are local government units that would still have temporary vacant posts despite the application of the mode of succession stated in the AO, the President shall appoint a qualified person.
In case of multiple vacancies, the Interior Secretary or OIC-DILG may make simultaneous appointments or designations, provided that provisions of the AO are followed.
Pending the completion of selection and appointment of a person who will fill in the temporary vacant slot, remaining local elective officials are mandated to administer daily operations of the local government unit.