OMBUDSMAN Conchita Carpio Morales has ordered the dismissal of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo from public service due to grave misconduct.
In the Ombudsman order, which was posted on its website Thursday, December 7, Degamo was found guilty of grave misconduct for the anomalous utilization of the province’s 2013 budget.
The dismissal order carries the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits and bar from taking the civil service examination, Ombudsman said.
The Ombudsman also ordered the filing of charges against Degamo for violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019).
The Ombudsman, according to its findings, found that in October 2012, Degamo submitted to the Provincial Board the proposed 2013 budget which included the P10-million intelligence fund.
However, the Provincial Board disapproved the proposed intelligence fund in the appropriation ordinance on January 15, 2013.
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In response, Degamo tendered his veto on the “questionable deletion or non-inclusion of the item on confidential/intelligence fund, which veto was not overridden by the SP (Provincial Board),” the Ombudsman said.
Degamo is currently serving a 90-day preventive suspension due to alleged anomalous use of P460-million calamity fund. The suspension order was served on October 18.
On April 15, 2013, Degamo issued a memorandum, directing the release of the P10 million intelligence fund “without further delay,” the Ombudsman said.
The next day, a cash advance for the payment of expenses of different activities related to intelligence operation in the amount of P10 million was released to Degamo, it added.
Upon audit, the Commission on Audit (COA) Regional Office determined that the “cash advance was made in the absence of an approved appropriation ordinance in violation of Section 305(a) of the Local Government Code and Section 4(1) of the Government Auditing Code of the Philippines,” Ombudsman said.
The Ombudsman ruled that “as appropriation ordinance no. 1, series of 2013, does not contain any item on confidential/intelligence fund, the release of the cash advance in the amount of P10 million was not supported by the necessary appropriation.”
“This violates the Local Government Code and Government Auditing Code,” said Morales.
She explained that the codes “provide that no money shall be paid out of the local treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation ordinance or law. Degamo’s act of insisting for the release of the cash advance despite the apparent absence of the necessary appropriation is thus a clear badge of willful intent to violate the laws and established rules.”
Morales directed the Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to implement the order.
Degamo can’t be reached for comment as of press time.
At present, Vice Governor Edward Mark Macias is the acting governor in relation to Degamo’s preventive suspension order.
Macias said he assumed the post last October 19, and that Degamo’s suspension will end mid-January.
As to Degamo's dismissal order, Macias said he will wait for the advice of the DILG.
On June 17, 2016, Degamo was also served with a dismissal order after he was discharged from the service by the Ombudsman in relation to the calamity fund, but the governor was able to secure a temporary restraining order.
The calamity fund was for the rehabilitation of the province’s infrastructure damaged by Typhoon Sendong in December 2011 and the 6.9 earthquake in February 2012.
The Department of Budget and Management then later withdrew the Special Allotment and Release Order due to non-compliance with the guidelines for infrastructure projects, but Degamo and the others still proceeded with the project.
Due to this, the COA had issued 11 notices of disallowance.
Earlier, the Court of Appeals dismissed the administrative charges on the same case against Degamo.