Mayor Rama’s risk in appointing Rosell

Attorney Collin N. Rosell, a nominee of party-list Marino in the last May 2022 elections, didn’t win a seat in the 19th Congress. Marino didn’t get enough votes for more than one seat and the lone seat went to first nominee Carlo Lisandro Gonzalez. Cebu’s Rosell was only the third in Marino’s list of five nominees.

Did Mayor Mike Rama violate the ban on appointing Rosell, within one year from the date of the elections that didn’t elect Rossell?

That question has come up with Sandiganbayan’s Oct. 26, 2022 conviction of former Panglao, Bohol mayor Leonila Paredes-Montero, who was sentenced to 24 years in jail for hiring four political allies who ran and lost in the 2013 elections.

Comparing Panglao

The Panglao case calls to mind the Rosell appointment but the comparison may be a stretch: (a) Montero appointed four political allies as job order workers, to evade the ban. Rama named Rosell as secretary to the mayor, no camouflage, no deceit. Mike must think Attorney Rosell was not covered by the ban. (b) Montero was sued, by a member of the media, after the public noise about it. Nobody has complained about Rosell’s appointment, much more gone to court.

Rosell not a loser?

Rosell was not the candidate, his party-list Marino was. His party Marino won but got votes good only for one seat and Rosell was not at the top of the list.

Of course he lost, he was a candidate. He put himself and his party out there in the campaign. Then candidate Rama always made a pitch for Rosell and Marino, often in that order.

Rosell could’ve been elected as congressman in that election: elected indirectly but still elected. As things turned out, Rosell lost, indirectly but he still lost.

But whether he is deemed a loser for the legal purpose of the one-year ban is unclear. The Constitution and the law, in laying down the prohibition, don’t distinguish when they specify “lost.”

Confidential position

How about the position of “secretary to the mayor” being a confidential position, which is beyond restriction of nepotism or Sanggunian vetting? Does the one-year ban apply to it? No exception under the Constitution, only losers in barangay elections are excluded.

Rama took some risk in hiring Rosell. Which won’t attach until someone complains and goes to court, which, if that happens, may resolve -- lawyers rejoice -- a still unsettled question in law.