NEGROS Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said he did not bring up the issue on the Provincial Government's hiring of job order (JO) casuals from Bacolod City during his recent virtual meeting with Mayor Evelio Leonardia.

On January 29, Leonardia, Lacson and several mayors in Negros Occidental met to discuss the harmonized travel guidelines of the province and its capital city.

Lacson said he did not bring up the matter as it was not the proper venue.

He earlier assured that the Provincial Government will be behind the seven department heads, including Provincial Administrator Rayfrando Diaz II, who are facing charges relative to the hiring of JOs.

The hired JOs are allegedly political organizers of Bacolod mayoralty bet and former provincial consultant Alfredo "Albee" Benitez, and residents of Bacolod City.

Asked if he believes that the case is a product of politics, Lacson said, "If we can trace it to politics, we will try to unmask the mastermind."

Criminal and administrative complaints were filed against Diaz and six other department heads of the Province before the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman-Visayas over the hiring of 23 Bacolod City residents as job order casuals.

But Diaz dismissed the complaint against them, saying this is purely "politically motivated and untrue as those are only based on the imagination of the complainants who are being used for political purposes."

Aside from Diaz, also charged with violation of Republic Act 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, were Provincial Budget Officer-in-Charge Gemma Flores, Provincial Accountant Annabelle Magalona, Provincial Human Resource (HR) Officer-in-charge Felomina Gozon, Provincial Treasurer lawyer Amy Grace Bolivar, Merly Frio and Jade Miraflores, who are both from the HR Provincial Administrative Office.

The complaints were filed by Jonathan Buyco of Barangay Matab-ang in Talisay City and Lilibeth Carballo of Pag-asa Habitat Village in Barangay Jonobjonob, Escalante City.