Senior Board Member Venzencio “Benjie” Arcamo assumed yesterday as the acting vice governor of Bohol after Vice Gov. Dionisio Balite was slapped of a nine-month suspension.
The suspension of Balite came after the 60-day Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) that gave six top provincial government officials the legal basis to continue serving in their respective elective and appointed positions despite a nine-month suspension expired last August 12, 2017.
The fate of former Provincial Board Members now Vice Governor Dionisio Balite, Maribojoc and Loay Vice Mayors Jose Veloso and Brigido Imboy, Executive Assistant IV Tomas Lopez and Provincial Administrator Alfonso Damalerio hinges on the resolution of their petition for review filed before the Court of Appeals (CA) on the Ombudsman decision suspending them for nine months without pay.
The Court of Appeals (CA) Special Eighteenth Division in Cebu City turned down their application for the issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Injunction in a resolution on July 27, 2017, and declared the case as submitted for decision.
The seven-page resolution was signed by Associate Justice Geraldine C. Fiel-Macaraig and concurred by Associate Justices Edgardo L. Delos Santos and Edward B. Contreras.
The position of the OSG and the Ombudsman Legal Affairs Office were adopted by the CA in its’ resolution denying the application for writ of preliminary injunction on the grounds that the decision of the Ombudsman is “immediately executory pending appeal and may not be stayed by the filing of an appeal or the issuance of an injunctive writ.”
The CA also gave weight to the Ombudsman Circular No. 17 issued on May 11, 2016 that it will no longer honor the defense of condonation on administrative cases remaining open and pending as of April 12, 2016.
The circular pointed out that “after all, there is no vested right to public office.”
The resolution also stressed that if an erring official committed misconduct, they must be held accountable, regardless of how many time they are re-elected into office.
The cases involving Balite, Veloso, Imboy and Uy stemmed from a resolution approved by the 2006 Sanggunniang Panlalawigan (SP) authorizing the opening of a letter of credit (LC) by then Governor Erico Aumentado with the Philippine National Bank, Cebu Branch in the amount of PhP9.4 million.
The amount was used for the importation of a backhoe with breaker and was also approved by then SP members Concepcion Lim, Amalia Tirol, Corazon Galbreath, Godofreda Tirol, Ma. Fe Camacho Lejos and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) President Frances Bobeth Cajes-Auza.
Lopez and Damalerio were implicated when they approved on April 28, 2009 an SP resolution authorizing Aumentado to open a PhP147.5 million LC with the Land Bank of the Philippines for the purchase of 26 units of heavy equipment.
The SP members who approved the 2009 resolution included A. Tirol, Galbreath, Camacho-Lejos, Josil Trabajo, Aster Apalisok-Piollo and Jane Censoria Cajes-Yap representing the SK.
The Ombudsman found Balite, Veloso, Imboy, Lopez and Damalerio liable for conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and were meted the suspension for a period of nine months without pay.
Those who were out of government service at the time of the decision were fined equivalent to their salary of six months payable to the Ombudsman.
The charge against Aumentado who was the Head of the Procuring Entity (HOPE) was not pursued in view of his death on December 25, 2012.
Provincial Legal Officer Mitchell John Boiser is now the OIC Provincial Administrator while the replacement of Lopez is still in the process.
VICE GOV ARCAMO
Acting Vice Gov Arcamo is presently senior board member after he garnered the highest number of votes among all board members .
He was floor leader of the Sangguniang Panlalwigan. He was former regional chairman of Provincial Board Members League of the Phils. Region VII. He was two term councilor of Panglao before he bid for a provincial position. (with reports from Chito Visarra)