TWO ranking provincial officials of Negros Oriental went up the ladder by way of succession after the Ombudsman’s dismissal order was served to Governor Roel Degamo early morning Tuesday, December 19.
Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Regional Director Rene Burdeos, together with DILG Negros Oriental Officer Dennis Quiñones, served the dismissal order outside the governor’s residence in Barangay Junob, Dumaguete City, while Degamo was out-of-town.
The guard on duty refused to receive the dismissal order, leaving Burdeos and company with no other recourse but to place the white envelope containing it on a chair.
Acting Governor Mark Macias and acting Vice Governor Mariant Escaño-Villegas were then ordered by the DILG to assume as governor and vice governor, respectively, to avoid any vacuum in the Provincial Government.
Macias and Villegas took their respective oaths by way of succession before Regional Trial Court executive Judge Gerardo Paguio Jr. at noontime at the Hall of Justice in Piapi, Dumaguete City.
Macias said there is nothing new with the order because he is already sitting as acting governor and their respective functions are actually the same.
As a full-fledged governor, Macias said only the word “acting” was removed. But as a public official, he said he is bound to obey orders but as to whether Degamo is totally out of the picture, Macias said the governor could still seek legal remedies, such as a temporary restraining order (TRO).
Macias made it clear that if Degamo is able to secure a TRO, he would follow orders and willingly step down. But for now, he said, he is assuming the top position in the province to avoid a vacuum in leadership.
He also clarified that the suspension and dismissal orders are two different cases -- the first expires on January 16 or 18 next year, while the second depends on whether a TRO is issued.
If a TRO is eventually issued for the dismissal order, the suspension order will still be enforced up to January 16 or 18, Macias said, as advised by lawyers.
Degamo’s camp earlier intimated they would immediately file an answer and a prayer for a TRO before the proper court.
Degamo earlier said that the deputy Ombudsman may have an axe to grind against him after filing a complaint on what he termed as selective justice before the high court and that it was becoming more personal rather than based on the merits of the case.
Degamo is serving a 90-day preventive suspension in relation to another case filed against him for alleged misuse of the province’s calamity fund and is expected to return in mid-January 2018.
The dismissal order, on the other hand, is in relation to a complaint filed against Degamo for alleged illegal use of the province’s P10-million intelligence fund. (PNA)