GenSan city council rejects appointment of social welfare officer

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 5 Jan) – The city council here rejected on Wednesday the appointment of the wife of an official of a foundation connected to the family of City Mayor Ronnel Rivera as city social welfare and development office (CSWDO) head.

General Santos City Hall. Mindanews file photo by BOBBY TIMONERA

With seven members on official leave, the councilors voted 5-2 during a special session to throw out an urgent resolution seeking concurrence to the appointment of Genelene Vidanes as Department Head II.

It conducted the voting before noon after several breaks and at least seven roll calls mainly due to the lack of quorum, which also prompted the adjournment of the initial special session on Tuesday.

Vice Mayor Loreto Acharon said they proceeded with the vote despite barely gaining quorum since it is their duty and the matter is “of public interest.”

He said the mayor sought the council’s concurrence on Vidanes’ appointment as provided for in Section 454 of the Local Government Code in a letter dated Dec. 21, 2021.

“We have to act on it now or the matter is deemed approved,” he said, noting that the 15-day allotted period for the council to act on the appointment ends Wednesday.

Vidanes, a licensed social worker who previously worked under the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office of South Cotabato, was appointed by Mayor Rivera last month as CSWDO chief, a move opposed by several officials and employees of the department.

On Dec. 27, the city council received a petition against her appointment from CSWDO Assistant Department Head II Edelina Salazar.

During a brief plenary questioning, opposition Councilor Franklin Gacal Jr. raised Vidanes’ connections with the city mayor being the appointing authority.

Vidanes confirmed that her husband Ryan is the executive director of the RD Foundation Inc., which is operated by the Rivera family.

Gacal then noted that the personal data sheet or PDS submitted by Vidanes was not duly notarized.

“With that, I think you are not qualified,” he said without further elaborating.

Councilor Rosalita Nuñez, an ally of Mayor Rivera and one of the two councilors who backed the resolution, said she supports the appointment of Vidanes as she is qualified for the post regardless of her husband’s connections to the Rivera family’s foundation.

Nuñez said she did her “own research” about Vidanes and believes that she is needed to put in a new brand of leadership “into that stagnant organization.”

“You have to infuse new ideas, new attitudes, and motivation into the organization. We need somebody like her to stabilize the organization,” she said in explaining her vote.

She dismissed concerns that Vidanes did not rise from the ranks of the CSWDO and said the petition filed by Salazar has no bearing since the latter was not a candidate for the position.

Nuñez said the administration bloc at the city council has the numbers once they are all present and could eventually approve Vidanes’ appointment during the next regular session on Jan. 22.

“We lost today but I will ask the mayor to reappoint [Vidanes] because I believer in her,” she said. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)