I recently had a meeting with several executives/managers wherein we determined that what the Product Owner had communicated, and the Product Manager had prioritized in the backlog, was no longer what was important from the perspective of the business. The PM wanted more features and minor fixes, so the backlog was prioritized accordingly. It was determined in this meeting however, that stabilization efforts were the priority. These include several pieces that will boost performance dramatically, limit errors and issues, and hopefully improve customer satisfaction (stabilization).
Where I have worked previously, the PO owned the backlog, and the Product Manager would prioritize the backlog. From the result of this meeting, in my experience, it should've been the PM that re-prioritize the backlog. If the technical debt piece was too obscure to be able to understand on their own, the PM would enlist the help of whoever they needed to in order to prioritize, but it still ultimately fell on them.
Today I was told that the Dev team actually owns the prioritization of the backlog with respect to technical debt/stabilization pieces. This to me yells red flag, in that we now functionally have co-owners of the backlog, and the source of truth it once was, is no longer. At any given time you may have incorrectly prioritized stories/tasks/bugs based off of two competing interests.
Am I off base? Am I thinking too black and white? I know we are all responsible for contribution, but the backlog is owned by the PO; the more tactical piece is owned by the PM; and execution is owned by dev.