NEGROS Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. has preventively suspended for 60 days, Provincial Accountant Merle Fortu for grave misconduct and gross insubordination.

The suspension order was meted on Fortu to avoid embarrassment and danger of exerting undue influence or pressure on the witnesses against her.

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Fortu was directed to refrain from entering the premises of the Provincial Capitol and its adjacent offices during the duration of her suspension or from doing such acts detrimental to the witnesses and the proceedings.

Marañon this is to give due course and to a fair and impartial investigation and hearing of her administrative case.

The suspension is pursuant to Section 85 of the Local Government Code of 1991 in relation to Section 51 of Executive Order 292 or the Administrative Code of 1987.

The case against Fortu was filed by Vice Governor Genaro Alvarez with the members of the Provincial Board as his witnesses.

Jose Maria Valencia, provincial legal officer and chief of staff of Marañon, said that the he has designated Lucille Pines, head of the General Services Office (GSO) as concurrent head of the Provincial Accounting office.

Valencia said that the case of Fortu will be heard by lawyer Jona Villanueva-Rubrica and will be investigated by lawyer Ariel Cuaycong.

He added that Fortu was again directed to file her answer within 72 hours and was asked to express whether she wants to undergo a formal hearing or submit the case on the basis of position paper. She was also advised to seek assistance of a lawyer.

Fortu, meanwhile, said that lawyer Edmundo Manlapao, her brother-in-law, will be act as her counsel.

Valencia also said that they will finish the investigation within the 60-day period.

Fortu's case stemmed from the alleged raising of her voice over the provincial officials during a meeting at the Governor's office last July 1.

Meanwhile, the Provincial Board during their inaugural session Wednesday passed a resolution condemning Fortu for her "gross discourtesy in the course of official duty tantamount to conduct unbecoming of a government employee and or grave Misconduct."

The resolution sponsored by Board Member Melvin Ibañez was unanimously approved by the Provincial Board members.

The resolution stated that Fortu arrogantly challenged and agitated the provincial officials during the said meeting to resort to court action if they have indeed questions on the accounting and auditing rules implemented by her office. (Teresa Ellera-Dulla)