Resigned OPA official spared from missing fertilizers probe

By Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – The provincial government of Negros Occidental can no longer hold a former division head of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) liable for the missing P2.3 million worth of fertilizer from the capitol warehouse Bago City, Negros Occidental after he resigned from his post.

It appears that the resignation of Alnel “Potchie” Taba as OPA division chief spared him from further investigation on the 789 bags of fertilizers that went missing from the Rice Processing Center warehouse in Brgy. Tabunan, Bago City.

Governor  Eugenio Jose Lacson admitted on Tuesday that Taba “is not within the reach of the province,” as he already resigned from his post.

Dismissed capitol employee Herminigildo Basilio claimed that he only followed the instruction of Taba to facilitate the receiving of 1,920 bags of fertilizer from Juantong Agri-Ventures around 3 p.m. on July 4, 2022.

In a statement, Basilio added the bags of fertilizer were completely unloaded to the warehouse, acknowledged by the watchman/guard on duty, and recorded in their logbook.

He further claimed that he was made a “scapegoat” for the missing fertilizer issue.

Asked if they will investigate Taba, Lacson replied “if you noticed most of our cases are administrative.”

“We don’t really want to file criminal cases against any individual. It’s not within the reach already of the provincial government administratively and as I said, we tried to avoid filing criminal cases,” he said.

Basilio decried his dismissal from service for grave charges without any evidentiary support, stressing also that he thoroughly explained his side in his reply to the show cause order issued to him, supported with documentary evidence.

He also provided the names of persons, who should be included in the investigation, “if such was made to uncover the truth.”

Lacson advised Basilio to file a motion for reconsideration on his dismissal.

“Instead of explaining it to the media, he should explain it in a proper venue,” the governor said.

The investigation on the missing fertilizer also prompted Provincial Agriculturist Edmundo Raul Causing to resign, allegedly for health reasons.

In his part, provincial legal officer Atty. Alberto Nellas stood his ground on his decision to recommend the dismissal of Basilio, which was approved by the governor.

Nellas contended Basilio was accorded due process.

He added that Basilio failed to present evidence on the person he wanted to be included in the investigation, noting also that all his issued statements were “self-serving” and “basic denial.”

In his issued statement, Basilio further said that he was no longer in charge of the Rice Processing Center for more than a year when the 789 bags of fertilizer allegedly went missing, stressing also that he does not have the key to the RPC warehouse.

As to the possible investigation also of the fertilizer supplier, Lacson said “I’m not really sure what we will do with the supplier.”

“In the meantime, we will just address the actions of our employees,” he added.

On the other hand, Lacson recognized that the OPA is a problematic department, which was also being experienced even by the past administrations.

“But we try to correct it. Precisely, we have investigations like this, the governor said, adding that “we will not be sitting down if we knew that there is an alleged anomaly happening.”