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Friday, September 22, 2023

NHCP affirms legality of City’s 1990 Official Seal

Two recent major events in the city featured the previous seal which has been declared in violation of DILG and NHI status on the creation, modification, change and registration of corporate seals of local government units.


In a 12 March 2014 news release, Atty. Roy Hilario P. Raagas, City Administrator and Spokeperson, said Mayor Oscar S. Moreno had issued Executive Order No. 030-14 titled “An Order Re-Adopting the June 24, 1990 Seal as the Official Seal of the City of Cagayan de Oro,” effective immediately.


“For the past 14 years, the city has been using a seal which highlights the words “Dakbayan sa Cagayan de Oro” in gold letters over a black background, followed by the words “Mindanao” and “Philippines” below center; with a core visual field, defined by two green laurel twigs with 40 leaves each, showing three stars, a sun, and a white dove in flight draped in the Philippine flag. This seal was adopted on February 1, 2000 through City Ordinance No. 7168-2000.


In the website, Elizaga.net, Elson Elizaga of the Heritage Conservation Advocates (HCA) wrote about the background of that seal:


Vicente Y. Emano became mayor of Cagayan de Oro in 1998. Shortly thereafter, he organized a City Hall seal contest. None of the entries was declared a winner. Instead, Emano made his own seal. 

HCA is a multi-sectoral group that campaigns for the preservation and promotion of Cagayan de Oro historical and archological sites (http://heritage.elizaga.net/about_hca.html).

On January 5, 2012, Dr. Antonio J. Montalvan II, another HCA official, wrote in Facebook: "To begin with, it was wrong for him to re-design the city seal. By law, only the National Historical Commission of the Philippines has the authority to design official government seals. The NHCP has a special division for that, the Heraldry Section. I was a member of the City Historical Commission when he undertook the change. I was against it. Your narration is correct: he discarded all entries and made his own design. That is the city seal that he now uses. It is, at best, an illegal seal."


Montalvan II is a Mindanao anthropologist and ethnohistorian on Mindanao Studies who has been published on Mindanao history and culture in academic journals and is the authot of “A Cagayan de Oro Ethnohistory Reader” which is used as a textbook by some of the city’s elementary schools.

The former seal was adopted by the past admistration when the city council passed Ordinance No. 7168-2000 “An Ordinance Adopting the new official seal of The City of Cagayan de Oro and for other purposes which was approved on the first reading on January 25, 2000 and passed on February 1, 2000 under motion no. 7556-2000 and took effect  fifteen days following its publication in a newspaper of general circulation.


Those who voted in its favor were councilors President Elipe, Michelle Tagarda, Alvin Calingin, Noel Beja, Jose Benjamin Benaldo, Maryanne Fillarica C. Enteria, Annie Y. Daba, Edgar  Cabanlas and Juan Sia. Councilor Celestino Ocio III abstained while Councilor Alfonso Goking


The session was chaired by the late John Elizaga who was vice mayor and subsequently signed by Vicente Emano as mayor.


However, according to the news release issued by Atty. Raagas, Dr. Maria Serena I. Diokno, chair of the National Historical Commisison, informed Mayor Moreno through a letter dated 18 November 2013, that “the corporate seal of Cagayan de Oro has not been properly registered with the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.”


Dr. Diokno informed Mayor Moreno that this was a violation of Dept. of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Memorandum Circular No, 92-30 (Policy Guidelines on the Creation, Modification, Change and Registration of Corporate Seals of Local Government Units).


This memorandum stipulates “that creation, modification, change of corporate seal shall undergo four (4) phases: Designing; Review; Approval and Registration before such seal becomes an official instrument for public use or purpose.”


In his executive order, Mayor Moreno declared: “Whereas, considering the creation and adoption of the current seal of the City of Cagayan de Oro failed to fully comply with the guidelines laid down by Memorandum Circular No. 92-93, the same failed to become and cannot be considered as the official corporate seal of the City of Cagayan de Oro. Thus, there is a need to discountinue the use of the current seal and revert back to the use of the June 24, 1990 Seal as the Official Seal of the City of Cagayan de Oro.”


However, Montalvan recently told this writer that the 1990 seal does not also have the approval of the NHCP either.


“I was at NHCP and it was I who asked Maris Diokno for her official opinion, with she subsequently wrote in an official letter to Moreno thereafter. The NHCP showed me the only approved seal for Cagayan de Oro which was the 1950 seal. Hence, for all intents and purposes, even the 1990 seal is illegal. The only recourse at this time is to revert back to the 1950 seal; or to develop a new city seal that passes through the legally prescribed process, e.g. submit it to the NHCP Heraldry Division for approval.”


“Also FYI, the Raagas order came after Save CdO Now wrote a position letter to the Moreno informing him of the illegality of the Emano seal and that only the 1950 seal has the NHCP approval. To put his revocation of the Emano seal into context, this must be mentioned.”


Raagas clarified that there is no "Raagas order" to speak of. “The EO was issued by Mayor Moreno Moreno with the draft reviewed by the City Legal Office before he signed and issued it.”


“DILG Memo Circular 92-30 outlining the guidelines for the formulation/ design and approval of official seals of government agencies including LGUs was issued pursuant to and in implementation of Republic Act No. 8491 – Flag and Heraldic Code of the Phils,” Raagas clarified further.  But DILG MC 92-30 was issued after the 1990 seal was approved (actually just a modification of the 1976 CdO seal with the words "City of Golden Friendship" in place of the words "Official Seal").

 Hence, the 1990 and 1976 seals were not covered by RA 8491 and DILG MC 92-30 and were therefore presumed and deemed duly approved as the subsequent and duly approved and adopted official seals of CdO.

Notwithstanding this, Raagas said the NHCP subsequently concurred in a letter to Moreno dated 26 May 2014 and signed by Ludovico D. Badoy, Executive Director III that “The Commission hereby concurs with the 1990 seal as the official seal of the city of Cagayan de Oro, considering that it represents the visions and ideals of its people.”

The 1990 Seal – which is almost a replica of the June 7, 1976 seal (Ordinance No. 85 Series of 1976) except that the words “Official Seal” were replaced with the word “Philippines” through Ordinance No. 280 on Sept. 24, 1990- contained the words “City of Cagayan de Oro” over a core visual field with the following symbols: two laurel leaves with 80 green leaves, representing the city’s 80 barangays; and the colors of the Philippine flag as background to a golden shield, representing the city’s committment to nation-building.

On the shield are representations of an industrial mill emitting smoke symbolizing the industrial character of the city’s economy; a bridge; an airplane, indicating the city has an airport; an ocean liner, signifying that the city is a port of entry and is considered the gateway to Mindanao; coconuts and pineapples, characterizing the two main agricultural products of the city; ceramics, depicting the flourishing of this homegrown industry; mining tools and products, announcing that the city has rich mineral resources; a torch of knownledge, announcing that the city is an educational center; and a tambuli pouring money, showing that progress and prosperity may be pursued through the wise management of the city’s resources.

Finally, the seal is clinched by a golden slash underneath, with the words “City of Golden Friendship.”

Before the 1976 seal, the City Government of Cagayan de Oro used the first city seal. Created under Republic Act No. 521 on June 15, 1950, Cagayan de Oro City used a seal which had the following elements: coconut and pineapple, representing the city’s two known and main export products; cornocopia, signifying the non-extravagance and thrift of its people (the older inhabitants of the place used the cornocopia as a piggy bank); three stars, echoing the Philippine archipelago in the Philippine flag; and two Spanish galleons, indicating that the city has engaged in trade during and even before the Spanish colonial regime. This original seal also bannered the words “City of Cagayan de Oro” and “Official Seal.”

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