Capitol employee in P2.3M fertilizer fiasco fired

By Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – Negros Occidental provincial legal officer Atty. Alberto Nellas Jr. said the employee involved in the missing fertilizer controversy was dismissed from service.

Nellas told reporters that Hermigildo Basilio was dismissed in connection to the missing 789 bags of fertilizer worth P2.3 million at the Rice Processing Center in Brgy. Tabunan, Bago City.

He further said that the dismissal from government service of Basilio for grave misconduct, serious dishonesty, and malversation of public funds or property was approved by Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson.

It took effect on August 14 after Basilio received the order.

Also terminated by the provincial government was Joy Cardinal who was also assigned to the Rice Processing Center and investigated for the missing fertilizer.

Nellas said that an investigation conducted by the Provincial Legal Office indicated that Basilio received the delivery of fertilizer way past office hours without any coordination with the provincial government of Negros Occidental.

“This is highly irregular. It runs counter not only to Civil Service rules, but also to OPA Rice Processing Center Operating Manual of 2022,” Nellas pointed out.

Basilio failed to present any authorization from the Provincial Agriculturist allowing the delivery of fertilizer to RPC past office hours, the investigation further showed, he added.

The PLO investigation also indicated that Basilio received 2,000 bags of fertilizer from the Department of Agriculture, as the person in charge of the RPC warehouse, with duty to safe keep, for distribution to local government units in the province.

On reports that Basilio was ordered by his immediate superior to accept the delivery of the fertilizers beyond office hours, Nellas said it was merely a verbal order.

The PLO investigation on the missing fertilizers further prompted Provincial Agriculturist Edmundo Raul Causing and a division chief of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist to resign, allegedly for health reasons.

Asked if Causing will be investigated under the principle of command responsibility despite resignation from his post, Nellas said that the former OPA chief did not sign any documents.

Based on records, it is only Basilio who signed the documents, he pointed out.

Basilio was the latest OPA employee to be dismissed from government service.

Four others were fired from their jobs for using a government vehicle beyond office hours.

The fertilizer which came from the Department of Agriculture was supposed to be distributed to LGUs affected by typhoon Odette.

The bags of fertilizer were discovered missing in October 2022 after the Cauayan municipal government, one of the recipients of the DA program, tried to withdraw their share but was not able to do so as the bodega was found to be empty.