Terminus interruptus

There is a new way of perpetuating oneself in elective public office, and that is by getting one’s term legally interrupted before it expires.

This was displayed effectively when Negros Oriental Gov Roel Degamo was dismissed by the Ombudsman for alleged graft and grave misconduct concerning P480Million in calamity fund from the office of the President, intended for victims of Typhoon Sendong and its infra damages three years ago.

The money was ordered recalled because of technicalities, but Degamo did not return the money, instead used it for the typhoon rehabilitation and victims. For this he was sacked by the Ombudsman.

The dismissal order was served by the DILG 2 weeks before June 30 when yearone of Degamo’s first 3-yr term shall have expired. Therefore, effectively, the first year of DEGAMO’s 3-yr term was interrupted with a dismissal. If the supreme court will rule with finality dismissing the graft case, then Degamo will be restored, and effectively gain, one more year as this 2016 will be considered his first year in office. That is if Degamo will be reinstated with finality.

But first, he has to get a temporary restraining order and hopefully to mature into an injunction for him to get back immediately. If there is a hearing on the merits, then the case will drag and Degamo cannot yet return. If Degamo cannot get a TRO then he could file a certiorari on a question of law, subject to appeal, or motion for recon if adverse, and on, to the supreme court. This journey can take years.

But between June 17 and June 30 without the TRO, the effective Governor is Doc Mark Macias who was already sworn into office by Executive Judge Gerardo Paguio last June 17. Gov Degamo will have to stay in the sideline if his TRO will not yet arrive. But the man is holed inside the capitol refusing to leave.

In the meantime, Doc Mark Macias as governor has been reshuffling positions at the capitol including the provincial engineer, administrator, gen services, and human resource officer among others. If Degamo gets a TRO then what happens to the Macias appointees? Will have to revert, and if permanent, will go floating again.

The case in the capitol may be one for the books among law students, and lawyers alike, but the loser is the public. There will be no stability in the provincial government, no new budget, there will be more intense legislative battles with the executive departments, and the contractual and job orders employees will suffer and so will their families because of unstable pay.

The question is: is it really worth the fight? What are they fighting for? Principle? Self-esteem? Personal aggrandizement? Which ever way you pick, we the people are still the ultimate losers

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