By reason of the official travel of our Municipal Mayor, I was designated as Acting Mayor for the duration of his travel. In the documents sent to me for signature, some indicate “OIC” while in most: “Acting Mayor”. I had to ask that the “OIC” be changed to “Acting Mayor”. Are the terms not the same since I am discharging the functions of the mayor in his absence? What is the difference? “As Acting Municipal Mayor, he can perform all the functions, powers and duties of the Municipal Mayor except the limitations provided for in cases of appointment, suspension or dismissal of employees.” (The Sangguniang Bayan Tasks and Responsibilities 6th Edition) The OIC on the other hand, has a more limited function since “The authorization shall specify the powers and functions that the local official concerned shall exercise” (Ibid). The mayor may designate any elected or permanent employee as an OIC while the determination of who shall be the acting mayor shall follow the rule on succession. Meaning, the vice-mayor shall always be designated as “acting mayor” or in his absence or incapacity, the highest ranking sangguniang bayan member and so forth.
Codila vs Martinez
Many years before the effectiveness of the Local Government Code, there was an issue regarding the designation as “acting mayor”. The issue was about the termination of employment of certain municipal policemen. Mayor Baloyo of Tagum, Davao designated the vice mayor as acting mayor by reason of his trip to another province to attend the wake of his brother. The vice mayor in turn designated the highest ranking council member, because he was sick. The counselor was also not in good health, so he then designated the third ranking councilor Martinez as acting mayor. One of the first acts of Martinez is to terminate the services of some municipal policemen- the petitioners. Then Martinez appointed some other people to fill the vacancies. When Baloyo returned to his municipality and assumed his office, he affirmed the actions of the acting mayor Martinez. Now the dismissed policemen filed a case alleging that their dismissal was illegal since their employment can only be terminated for cause being a civil service employee. They also alleged that Martinez did not have the authority to terminate their employment since he was only the acting mayor. The trial court dismissed the case and ruled that their dismissal was proper.
Dismissal was Proper
The Supreme Court upheld the decision of the trial court. It turns out that the appointment of the policemen was temporary and that their dismissal was due to the expiration of their term. On the issue of whether Martinez could have effectively terminated their employment, the Supreme Court agreed with the trial court when it held that: “Although his designation was irregular, still he was acting under a color of authority, as distinguished from a usurper who is “one who has neither title nor color of right of an office.” (G.R. No. L-14569, November 23, 1960) The SC continued to explain that: “Another factor that may be invoked in favor of the validity of the official actuation of Acting Mayor Martinez is the fact that all his official acts done under his designation were subsequently endorsed and ratified by the incumbent mayor when he returned to office. This ratification served to cure any legal infirmity the acts of Acting Mayor Martinez may have suffered because of his irregular designation.” The termination of the employment of the policemen has been ultimately ruled valid since their appointment was temporary and that they could not be qualified for appointment since they do not have eligibility.