Four capitol execs in vehicle misuse dismissed from service

By Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – Four personnel of the Negros Occidental Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) were dismissed from service after they were found guilty of grave misconduct for misusing a government vehicle in July 2022.

Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson approved the recommendation of Provincial Legal Officer Alberto Nellas to dismiss Engineers Ramelo Letran, German Abihay, Rezin Palacios, and Maria Luisa Abano.

Nellas acted as the hearing officer of the case.

The decision dated January 3, 2023, also ordered the following accessory penalties against the respondents: cancellation of eligibility, perpetual disqualification from holding public office, ban on taking civil service examination,s and forfeiture of retirement benefits.

The accessory penalties are based on Section 57(a), Rule of the 2017 RACCS (Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service).

The case began when Provincial Administrator Atty. Rayfrando Diaz ordered the respondents on July 21, 2022 to answer charges that they misused a car owned by the provincial government on July 15, 2022.

The charges claimed that they used a capitol-owned Toyota Innova beyond the Travel Order issued to them and beyond office hours by refusing to head back to the capitol despite their meeting at the Victorias City Hall having ended early.

The documents further indicated that the respondents engaged the services of Capitol driver Lemuel Gravino beyond the travel order issued to them and beyond office hours by making Mr. Gavino wait for them at the Victorias City Hall at past 8 p.m.

The respondents were also accused of drinking liquor at Bok’s Seafood in Victorias City beyond office hours and in violation of the Travel Authority issued to them.

The decision stated that the OPA personnel acted with gross inexcusable negligence when they admitted that they utilized the subject vehicle and made Mr.  Gavino wait for them beyond office hours.

“To make matters worst (sic), Mr. Gavino saw them engaging in a drinking spree. Thus, clearly shows inexcusable negligence when the respondents were supposed to merely discharge their administrative function,” the decision stated.

The decision also noted that the respondents failed to justify the unlawful acts they committed.

Accordingly, the respondents’ act constitutes grave misconduct, the decision said.

The decision cited Section 1 of Administrative Order No. 239 which strictly prohibits the use of government vehicles for purposes other than official business and outside of regular office hours or the route of the employees authorized to use them.