NEGROS ORIENTAL, Philippines – Reelected Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo refused to vacate his post despite being dismissed by the Office of the Ombudsman over the illegal use of calamity funds.
Degamo was served the dismissal order on Friday, June 17, but refused to receive the order. This prompted Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Negros Island Region director Margie Biligan to post the order on the wall of the Provincial Capitol in Dumaguete City.
Hundreds of the governor’s supporters formed a barricade at the capitol building while the order was being served. Police said the governor’s supporters had been camping outside the building for several days.
Reelected Vice Governor Edward Mark Macias took his oath as acting governor before Regional Trial Court Executive Judge Gerardo Paguio Jr. at the Hall of Justice. He is currently holding office at Sidlakang Negros, which is near the Capitol.
Macias will serve as acting governor until June 30, but said that he will take his oath again as governor if the gubernatorial post is still vacant by that time.
“I was directed to assume the post of governor because there was already a dismissal order against Governor Degamo,” Macias said.
He added that he was only following the law and doing his job as a public official.
“I have to do this to make sure that business is usual at the Capitol. As vice governor, it’s my duty,” he said.
Commenting on Degamo’s refusal to vacate the governor’s office, Macias said, “It’s normal for some people to continue to be in denial over the rapid turn of events.”
But he said that he hopes the situation would stabilize soon, raising concerns that the occupants of the Governor’s Office could be tampering with official documents.
For her part, Biligan said that the DILG is only the implementing body of the dismissal order and that they have no authority to drag Degamo out of his office.
It’s up to the Commission on Elections and the Ombudsman to determine if Degamo will be qualified to sit as governor after he won a fresh mandate in the May 9 elections, Biligan added.
In a resolution dated March 16, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morale ordered the dismissal of Degamo and 2 others for grave misconduct over the disbursement of P480 million calamity funds.
The funds were intended for the repair, rehabilitation and construction of structures damaged by Typhoon Sendong in 2011 and the 6.9-magnitude earthquake in 2012.
The Ombudsman also found probable cause to file malversation charges against Degamo, Provincial Treasurer Danilo Mendez and Provincial Accountant Teodorico Reyes for proceeding to award 11 infrastructure projects worth P143.2 million despite the lack of funds. – Rappler.com
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