5 Capitol workers dismissed for 'extortion'

FIVE employees of the Cebu Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (Penro) were dismissed after the office received a series of reports that they were involved in extortion activities.

The dismissal came after Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III during his inaugural address ordered an investigation on reports that his name was used by some Penro officers to extort anything.

Lawyer Ace Escolar, incoming head of Penro, said they received reports from random people regarding the allegations but the complaints were not supported with enough evidence.

"Some witnesses like the truck drivers moingon nga mao ni sila, si kuan, etc. but there is not enough evidence. So we encourage them nga when you make allegations, make sure to support it with sufficient affidavit so that we can process it properly," Escolar said.

He added that Penro has been pressured to act on the issue immediately, thus they dismissed the five employees, who were not yet named pending investigation.

"On our end, we also are pressured to take immediate actions regarding this issue. The operation does not stop while we are still having an investigation," Escolar said, adding that they based their decision on the consistent reports given to them by their informants.

"To address this urgent matter, ang gibuhat sa Penro, katong lima ka tawo, nga naa gyuy sige'g sulti nga mao gyud ni sila nga consistent gyud, amo gibuhatan ug action," Escolar said.

He added that the five employees accused were interviewed by Baltazar Tribunalo, head of Cebu Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office, and all of them admitted extortion.

The five were dismissed effective July 1.

"Because we cannot wait for the process nga kani nga mga tawo nga ni-allegar mu atag pa ug affidavit, ni-advise na lang nga dili nala sila i-renew," Escolar said.

But Escolar clarified that if ever the investigation turns out negative, the name of those accused will be cleared and they will be rehired immediately.

Governor Davide said he has not yet received reports regarding the employees' identity. He said the action was part of the internal cleansing of the government.

"Not just in Penro, in other offices as well. If their fooling around at the expense of Provincial Government, then they have to go," Davide said Monday.

He said they have to be strict in order to ensure that the Capitol employees and officials are working properly.

When asked about how they handle reports and complaints from employees, Davide said the public can approach him personally or communicate to him via letter or email.

He also encouraged the public to give complaints if they see government employees and officials fooling around. (Samuel Carlve Saberon, USJR intern/Sunnex)

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