OMALAHOKAN
“Most celebrated case of Negros Oriental”
by Atty. Francisco D. Yap

All that is written in this column are quotations from the records of this case, entitled: JUNE VINCENT MANUEL S. GAUDAN versus ROEL R. DE GAMO, ET AL., - OMB-V-C-13-0348 and JUNE VINCENT MANUEL S. GAUDAN versus ROEL R. DE GAMO, ET AL. – OMB-V-A-13-0331 . Nothing is added to make it very objective.

On January 12, 2016, the Office of the Ombudsman issued Joint Resolution, stating that:

“Culled from the records are the following undisputed facts:

Typhoon Sendong hit the Province of Negros Oriental (the Province) in December 2011, followed by a magnitude 6.9 earthquake in February 2012. These cause serious damage to different structures within the province.

Respondent Provincial Governor Roel R. Degamo (respondent Degamo) requested from the Office of the President the release of the Province’s FY 2012 Calamity Fund for the repair, rehabilitation construction of the structures damaged by the calamities. Such request was granted and on 5 June 2012. The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Regional Office No. VII issued Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) No. ROVII-12-0009202 in the amount of Php964,550,000.00. On 7 June 2012, PhP 480,775,000.00 thereof was released ad deposited to the Provincial Government’s bank account.

On 19 June 2012, however, DBM Undersecretary Mario Relampagos (Usec. Relampagos) wrote a letter to respondent Degamo, informing him that SARO No. RO?VII-12-0009202 would be withdrawn since the Province did not comply with existing guidelines on releases for infrastructure projects amounting to PhP 10 million and higher, which require prior approval from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). Under DPWH Department Order No. 16, series of 2012, it is the DPWH which determines whether a recipient agency/ institution is capable of implementing project identified in the request.

On 29 June 2012, the DBM Regional Office No. VII, through Director Carmela . Fernan (Dir. Fernan), issued negative SARO No. ROVII-12- 0012208 withdrawing the release of FY 2012 Calamity Fund under ARO No. ROVI-12-0009202. Dir Fernan simultaneously set a letter to respondent Degamo demanding the return of Php 480,775,000.00 earlier released, and to deposit the same to the National Treasury.

On even date, the Bids Awards Committee (BAC), chaired by respondent Provincial Treasurer Danilo C. Mendez (respondent Mendez) held a special meeting for the purpose of conducting a pre-procurement conference for infrastructure projects to be implemented by the Province out of the Calamity Fund released. During said meeting, SAR No. ROVII- 12-0009202 and the subsequent release of Php 480,775,000.00 was mentioned but not he demand of their return by the DBM. T he members of the BAC, except Marichu Alpuerto who was then absent, unanimously approved the motion of respondent Degamo to undertake said projects through Negotiated Procurement in Emergency Cases.

The DBM authority to release a SARO necessarily includes the authority to withdraw or revoke an issued SARO It has, after all, the power and function to prepare, execute and control the national budget under the Administrative C ode of the Philippines. Significantly, in the case of Degamo v. Relampagos, this Office had ruled in favor of the regularity of the DBM’s withdrawal of the SARO initially issued to the Province of Negros Oriental.

If indeed respondents had reservations on the legality of the SARO’s withdrawal, they could have asked a higher executive authority or secured a judicial directive allowing them control of the funds allotted to the province. They did not. Their unilateral act of Ignoring DBM’s authority is indicative of evident fad faith, manifest partiality and/or gross inexcusable negligence which caused undue injury o the Government in the amount of Php 143,268,441.59, representing the advance payments made to the different contractors, in direct violation of RA 3019, Section 3( c). Moreover, entering into eleven (11) separate infrastructure contracts and disbursing advance payments thereto through the use of certifications that made untruthful statements on the availability of funds constitute the commitment of malversation of Public Funds through Falsification, defined under Article 217, in relation to Articles 171 and 48 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended.

WHEREFORE, this Office finds PROBABLE CAUSE against respondents Roel R. Degamo, Danilo C. Mendez and Teodorico G. Reyes for ELEVEN (11) COUNTS of MALVERSATION OF PUBLIC FUNDS THROUGH FALSIFICATION, defined and penalized under Article 217, in relation to Articles 171 and 48 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, fan for VIOLATION of REPUBLIC ACT NO. 3019, SECTION 3(E). Let the corresponding Informations be filed before the Sandiganbayan.

In addition, the same respondents are hereby LIABLE for GRAVE MISCONDUCT, and meted the penalty of DISMISSAL FROM THE SERVICE, with the accessory penalties of cancelation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits and perpetual disqualification from re-employment in the government service. In the case of respondent Degamo, however, the penalty against him may no longer be imposed in view of hisre-election as Provincial Governor in 2013.

That a JOINT ORDER dated May 16, 2016 was issued stating that:

“This resolves the separate motions for reconsiderations filed by the parties assailing, in whole or in part, of this Office’s Joint Resolution dated 12 January 2016 (the Joint Resolution) which, in the administrative aspect, found respondentmovants Roel R. Degamo (Degamo) Danilo C. Mendez (Mendez) and Teodorico G. Reyes (Reyes) administratively liable for Grave Misconduct. X x x.”

WHEREFORE, this office, through the undersigned:

(a) DENIES: respondent- movant Roel R. Degamo’s Motion for Reconsideration with Motion to Hold Filing of Information dated 13 April 2016 as well as respondent-movants Danilo C Mendez and Teodorico G. Reyes’ Motion for Reconsideration of Joint Resolution dated 12 April 2016, for lack of merit; and

(b) GRANTS complainant- movant June Vincent Manuel S. Gaudan’s Urgent Motion for Reconsideration filed on 21 April 2016 and IMPOSES upon respondent-movant Roel R. Degamo, for having committed the administrative offense of Grave Misconduct, the principal penalty of Dismissal from the Service along with corresponding accessory penalties of cancellation of civil service eligibility, perpetual disqualification from holding public office and forfeiture of retirement benefits.”

Further, a Resolution on the Petition For Review filed by GOV. ROEL R. DEGAMO vs. OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN, ET. AL., CA-G.R. SP NO. 146151, issued by the Court of Appeals, Special Fifth Division, stated:

“Before this Court is a “Petition for Review Under Rule 43 of the Rules of Court With Prayer for a Writ of Preliminary Prohibitory Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order” filed by petitioner, through counsel, on January 17, 2016.

Therein, petitioner beseech this Court to enjoin: (1)the Joint Resolution dated January 12, 2016 of the Office of the Ombudsman [“Ombudsman”] [approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales n March 16, 2016], which found probable cause against petitioner Roel Degamo for eleven (11) counts of Malversation of Public Funds Through Falsification, defined and penalized under Article 217, relation to Articles 171 and 48 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and for Violation of Republic Act No. 3019, Section 3(3). In addition, the Ombudsman found petitioner liable for Grave Misconduct, and meted the penalty of dismissal from the service, including the accessory penalty of perpetual disqualification form holding public office, among others; and (2) Joint Order dated May 16, 2016 [approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpi Morales on May 25, 2016] which affirmed the January 12, 2016 Joint Resolution.

After a perusal of the instant petition, this Court finds that the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) is warranted, otherwise, grave and irreparable damage will be sustained by petitioner.

ACCORDINGLY, this Court hereby resolves to ISSUE, without bond, a Temporary Restraining Order ex parte, and/or maintaining the status quo ante effective immediately, for a period of sixty (60) days, unless sooner lifted, prohibiting and enjoining the implementation of the Joint Resolutions dated January 12, 2016 and May 16, 2016, respectively.

That in a resolution dated July 15, 2016, issued by the Court of Appeals, Special Ninth Division, entitled: DANILO C. MENDEZ AND TEODORICO G. REYES versus JUNE VINCENT MANUEL S. GAUDAN, ET. AL., CA-G.R. SP No. 146396, stated that:

“However, it appears that the Petition for Injunction docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 145444, which has the same title as in the instant Petition for Review in CA-G.R. SP No. 146396, falls outside the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals xxx. Under B.P. 129, the appellate court has original jurisdiction only over act5ions for annulment of judgments of the RTCs and has original jurisdiction to issue writs of mandamus, prohibition, certiorari, habeas corpus and quo warranto, and auxiliary writs or processes whether or not they are in aid of its appellate jurisdiction. (Underscoring supplied) Accordingly, the consolidation of the instant Petition for Review n CAG. R. No. 146396 with the Petition for Injunction in CA-G.R. SP No. 145444, is not in order. WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Petition for Review with Motion for Consolidation is DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.”

The TRO is temporary, good for sixty days which expired on August 23, 2016. Thus, the dismissal will be served on Governor Degamo, by the DILG, in due time.

The case in the Court of Appeals will be decided in less than a month. The wheels of justice grinds slowly but surely.

Why do robbers rob banks?

Why do people cling to their public office, its because that is where the money is.


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