NEGROS ORIENTAL – No surprises about Gov. Roel Ragay Degamo ‘s leave of office for 90 days as a preventive measure relative to his P140-Million criminal case for malversation and falsification before the graft court Sandiganbayan in Manila.
But his lawyers were already (legal) battle-ready with the already filed certiorari petition and another for a TRO temporary restraining order hoping the governor will skip the suspension.
Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Ragay Degamo said he was ready and has humbly accepted last Wednesday, October 18, service, through the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), of the 90-day preventive suspension order by the Sandiganbayan. This after hearing from sources that it will be served Tuesday or anytime this week to coincide with the major activities of the Buglasan festival.
In the order, the Sandiganbayan made it clear that under Section 13 of RA 3019 otherwise known as the anti-graft law that it is mandatory for the Court to place accused Degamo under preventive suspension once the validity of the information is positively determined.
This refers to the criminal case filed by June Vincent Gaudan against Gov. Roel Ragay Degamo for violation of Article 217 in relation to Articles 171 and 48 of the Revised Penal Code as amended, or for malversation of public funds through falsification.
Degamo’s legal counsel Atty. Richard Enojo – who also confirmed that he is also suspended for 3 months but due to another land case not related to the capitol, – said this is not a surprise to the governor and the lawyers because the procedure after arraignment of the criminal complaint, is to preventively suspend Degamo as a matter of course.
Upon arrival Wednesday of the preventive suspension served by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), regional Director Rene Burdeos Degamo said he accepted the same even if it was against his will because this is part of the process saying that he still believes in the rule of law.
Preventive suspensioin in a criminal case is done in order to prevent the accused pubic official from using the influence of his office to exonerate himself unduly. But if the case is not finished after 90 days, the suspended official will have to return to his office as a matter of course.
Also by virtue of DILG suspension order, Degamo said Vice Gov. Edward Mark Macias will automatically assume as acting governor. He disclosed having met with Macias earlier before the formal opening of the Buglasan festival, and that Macias reportedly assured Degamo that the set up at the provincial capitol will remain intact.
Thirty days after his assumption as acting governor, Macias may hire, fire and even suspend erring personnel by going through the legal process. Degamo is hopeful Macias will make good a verbal agreement with him which was witnessed by board member Miguel Dungog that everything will be orderly and that no major changes will be made in the organization so that when he comes back on January 18 next year, programs and projects will be continued as approved, including the P2.5 Billion provincial budget.
In view of the verbal agreement, Degamo enjoined employees of the provincial government and negrenses to support Vice Gov. Macias in the three-month period where is acting governor while he is under preventive suspension.
Degamo issued the statement while delivering a message during the opening of the three-day Buglasan Farm and Livestock Congress today at the provincial capitol
The governor was waiting for the service of the preventive suspension order but Tuesday was declared a public holiday for government employees and for public and private schools in all levels due to the nationwide transport strike, in Memorandum Circular No. 29 signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, which was on a its second day.
Meanwhile, the governor’s legal team had already petitioned the Supreme Court via certiorari for the reversal of the order of the Sandiganbayan.
Atty. Enojo clarified a preventive suspension is not a penalty, not a punitive suspension, but merely to prevent the governor from exercising the prerogatives of his office while investigation is going on.
Gov. Roel Ragay Degamo expected the service of the preventive suspension order or, October 19, and any day, even as he enjoined Negrenses not to be wary or sad about it because this is only temporary.
What was fearful was the first order of dismissal outright by the ombudsman if not for the temporary restraining order and the favorable decision of the Court of Appeals saying there was no criminal intent on the part of the governor in using the urgency of the P460M calamity funds to rehabilitate the province after it was battered by typhoon Sendong that very week in 2012.
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