Hundreds of people from different walks of life in Negros Oriental trooped to the Capitol yesterday morning to throw their support to re-elected Gov. Roel Degamo, following a radio announcement that he was no longer the province’s chief executive.
Some of the supporters blocked the main entrance to the Capitol while some tricycles also parked in front of the building’s steps as the numbers increased by the hour.
A tricycle even had a public address system over which some people took turns speaking out their sentiments regarding the supposed dismissal of the governor.
Degamo, who also entertained some people at his office, told the media later that the people came on their own volition upon hearing that that the Department of Interior and Local Government was scheduled to serve the so-called writ of execution on the dismissal order of the Ombudsman against him and two other employees of the Capitol, namely provincial treasurer Danilo Mendez and provincial accountant Teodorico Reyes.
In a statement read for him by counsel, Justo Paras, the governor said he is still the governor of the province and will continue to discharge the functions and duties as mandated by the Constitution as the duly reelected governor by an overwhelming majority.
Degamo said the tension and confusion that had been created is a result of maneuverings by people who could not accept defeat, so that he could not sit as governor.
The governor pointed out he could not in conscience accept the alleged reversal made by the Ombudsman on their original decision even as he has not officially received a copy of the same.
Degamo said he believes the implementation of the order of the Ombudsman has been railroaded because a congressman and newly-elected congressmen, with the support of their minions, have been following up for its reversal and immediate execution, which is a clear violation of his constitutional right of due process.
Worried but angry supporters continue to grow in numbers as supporters of Dumaguete City mayor-elect Felipe Antonio Remollo also trooped to the Capitol to sympathize with the governor.
Degamo came out of the Capitol building to reassure them that he will only leave the Capitol if the Supreme Court will order him so, urging them to stay calm and cautioned the other camp not to make unnecessary actions to maintain the peace.
The supposed dismissal of Degamo is in relation to an administrative complaint of grave misconduct and a criminal complaint for malversation filed against him by a private citizen before the Ombudsman regarding the P480 million calamity fund, which the governor had allegedly misused.
An earlier decision in April had found Mendez and Reyes guilty of the administrative case for grave misconduct and were ordered dismissed but they filed a motion for reconsideration.
The two sought a temporary restraining order from the court against the execution of the dismissal order, pending the motion for reconsideration.
In the case of Degamo, the previous Ombudsman order said he cannot be dismissed from the service for the same administrative charge filed against the two Capitol officials because of the Aguinaldo doctrine.
The Aguinaldo condonation legal doctrine prevents an official from being removed from office, as stated by the Supreme Court, “that the Court should never remove from office for acts done prior to his present term. To do otherwise would be to deprive the people of their right to elect their officers”.
Degamo was elected in 2013 and re-elected in 2016 by an overwhelming majority.
However, a recent decision by the Ombudsman showed a reversal of the previous decision, saying this time that the Aguinaldo doctrine no longer applies to Degamo.
The governor, however, said he has not yet received an official copy of the Ombudsman’s latest order.
The 11 counts of malversation case, however, had been forwarded to the Sandiganbayan.
At the commissioning of the multi-million pesos state-of-the-art mechanized seedling nursery in Barangay Banban, Ayungon in northern Negros Oriental, Degamo, who was among the invited guests and speakers, announced that he was still the governor of the province.
Degamo said his political detractors are doing their best to pull him down, describing the Ombudsman complaint as politically motivated.*JFP/JG