VICE Governor Edward Mark Macias officially took over as acting governor of Negros Oriental on October 18 after Governor Roel Ragay Degamo was served a 90-day preventive suspension.
Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)-Central Visayas Director Rene Burdeos served the Sandiganbayan order early Wednesday. It was witnessed by DILG provincial head Dennis Quiñones, Philippine National Police Provincial Director Edwin Portento, and the head of the legal division of DILG-7.
The preventive suspension order was received by Assistant Provincial Administrator Froilan Joseph Pinili at 7:45 a.m. at the Office of the Governor.
Pinili reiterated statements issued by Degamo earlier that the preventive suspension was not a penalty but part of the process when an information was filed before the Sandiganbayan or graft court, relative to the P460-million calamity fund.
In an interview, Macias said his assumption to office was not automatic, as he was also served an order to assume the governor’s post and took his oath before Regional Trial Court Executive Judge Gerardo Paguio Jr., along with Board Member Mariant Escaño Villegas, who also took her oath as acting vice governor for 90 days.
It was the second time for both officials to assume the same positions when Degamo was also served a suspension order by the Ombudsman. They served for only five days the first time, as the governor was able to secure a temporary restraining order.
This time, the suspension is for 90 days.
Macias’ first order of business was to inform everybody in the Provincial Government, the department heads, local government units and mayors that he was the province's acting governor starting October 18.
On October 23, he will gather all the department heads and key personnel for a meeting to lay down what he intends to do in the next 90 days.
He stressed the importance of the continued delivery of basic services and that all officials continue serving in their present capacity.
During the meeting, Macias wants to be briefed on the personnel in every department, their budget, programs and projects, their problems and concerns. In the next 90 days, the acting governor said he wanted to help find solutions to these concerns and not to add to the problems of the Provincial Government.
Macias confirmed that he had met with Degamo before the shake-up to say that he wanted a smooth transition, unlike the first time when the delivery of basic services was affected.
During the meeting, Macias made known to Degamo his plans, adding that he needed everyone’s cooperation.
Although the Local Government Code says he can hire, fire and suspend erring personnel, Macias said he would do it only when necessary.
As to programs and projects, the acting governor assured Degamo that these would continue as programmed and that he would monitor them to make sure they were implemented to the letter.
Macias is also looking into the status of quarry operations in the province, following reports of closure orders that are not implemented.
He said, though, that he was not privy to such reports and needed to be briefed by the Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD). He said he would not issue permits unless these concerns were addressed because Macias said he might be adding to the problem.
On the status of job orders, Macias said he was aware they had contracts that would expire in December in time for the return of the governor in January. The only thing that he could do, he said, was to make an inventory of their whereabouts so he could plan and make the deployments if needed.
The acting governor said if these job orders were really working, they don’t have a problem with him.
“Our end will honor as agreed, for as long as they honor theirs,” Macias said, referring to his discussion with Degamo in a meeting before the preventive suspension was served.
Macias thanked Degamo for enjoining employees of the Provincial Government to support him during his stint as acting governor.
For her part, Acting Vice Governor Villegas said she would give the necessary support to the acting governor to fast-track the implementation of projects.
She said she would continue holding a caucus with the Provincial Board members before the regular sessions, so there would be a smooth discussion of issues and approval of proposed resolutions and ordinances that would redound to the benefit of Negrenses.
Macias also called on Negrenses to continue celebrating the Buglasan Festival and participate in other activities lined up so the next 90 days could go without a hitch for the provincial government. (PNA)