Governor Degamo awaits preventive suspension of 90 days for criminal case

NEGROS ORIENTAL – Governor Roel Ragay Degamo was read and is  waiting for the service through the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), of the 90-day preventive suspension order by the Sandiganbayan  after hearing it from sources that it will be served Tuesday  or  anytime this week to coincide with the major activities of the Buglasan festival.

In the order, the Sandiganbayan made it clear that under Section 13 of RA 3019 otherwise known as the anti-graft law that it is mandatory for the Court to place accused Degamo  under preventive suspension  once the validity of the information is positively determined.

This refers to the criminal case filed by June Vincent Gaudan  against Degamo for violation of  Article 217 in relation to Articles 171 and 48 of the Revised Penal Code as amended, or for malversation of public funds through falsification.

Degamo’s legal counsel Atty. Richard Enojo – who also confirmed that he is also suspended for 3 months but due to another land case not related to the capitol, said this is not a surprise to the governor and the lawyers because  the procedure  after arraignment of the criminal complaint, is to preventively suspend Degamo as a matter of course.

Upon hearing that the preventive suspension will be served anytime this week  by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Degamo said he will humbly  accept the same even if it is against his will because this is part of the process saying  that he still believes in the rule of law.

Preventive suspensioin in a criminal case is done in order to prevent the accused pubic official from using the influence of his office to exonerate himself unduly.  But if the case is not finished after 90 days, the suspended official will  have to return to his office as a matter of course.

Also by virtue of DILG suspension order, Degamo said Vice Gov. Edward Mark Macias will automatically  assume as acting governor.  He disclosed having met with Macias earlier before the formal opening  of the Buglasan festival,  and that Macias reportedly  assured Degamo that the set up at the provincial capitol will remain intact.

Upon assumption as acting governor, Macias may hire, fire and even suspend erring personnel by going through the legal  process. Degamo is hopeful Macias will make good a verbal agreement with him which was witnessed by board member Miguel Dungog that everything will be orderly and that no major changes will be made in the organization so that when he comes back at the end of  January next year, programs and projects will be continued as  approved.

In view  of the verbal agreement, Degamo  enjoined employees of the provincial government and negrenses to support Vice Gov. Macias in the three-month period where is acting governor while he is under preventive suspension.

Degamo issued the statement while delivering a message during the opening of the three-day Buglasan Farm and Livestock Congress today at the provincial capitol

The governor was waiting for the service of the preventive suspension order today, but Tuesday  was declared a public holiday for government employees and for public and private schools in all levels due to the nationwide transport strike, in Memorandum Circular No. 29 signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, which was on a its second day.

Meanwhile, the governor’s legal team had already petitioned the Supreme Court via certiorari   for the reversal of the order of the Sandiganbayan.

Atty. Enojo clarified a preventive suspension is not a penalty, not a punitive suspension, but merely to prevent the governor from exercising the prerogatives of his  office while investigation is going on.

Degamo expects the service of the preventive suspension order , October 18 and any day,  even as he enjoined negrenses not to be wary or sad about it because this is only temporary unlike the first suspension by the ombudsman if not  for  the temporary restraining order and the favorable decision of the Court of Appeals saying there was no criminal intent on the  part of the governor  in using the urgency of the P460M calamity funds to rehabilitate the province after it was battered by typhoon Sendong that very week in 2012.

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