By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson denied the motion for reconsideration filed by the four former employees of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) who were sacked earlier this month.
Lacson said that no new evidence had been discovered and submitted by the four terminated OPA employees in their motion for reconsideration that would materially alter or affect his decision on January 3, ordering their dismissal from service.
In his resolution, Lacson pointed out the motion shall be based on any new evidence that has been discovered or the decision is not supported by the evidence on record, or errors of law or irregularities have been committed prejudicial to the interest of the movant.
His decision recently was also supported by evidence on record as the position paper of the respondents was taken into account.
While respondents relied heavily on the alleged invitation of an agriculturist of the province’s Victorias City, there is nothing that would support the allegation aside from the bare and self-serving claims of the respondents, Lacson said in his resolution.
There is no proof in the form of affidavits or other documentary evidence whatsoever attached in the respondents’ position paper, he pointed out.
Unless the claim or allegation is supported by the sworn statement of the agriculturist himself, the same can’t be given weight in favor of the respondents, he added.
The governor also said that although the respondents insisted that the meeting at a restaurant was part of the official business, still, nothing was submitted or presented to support the claim that the time spent in the establishment outside Victorias City Hall is indeed part of the official business.
Furthermore, since the official business meeting on the day the incident happened ended at 4:45 p.m., Lacson pointed out that no one among the respondents bothered and cared to inform their driver that the meeting was finished early.
The driver only knew the whereabouts of the four employees around 8:00 p.m. on the same date, when he contacted one of the respondents that they were at a restaurant.
Meanwhile, Provincial Legal Officer Atty. Alberto Nellas, Jr. said the decision on January 3 was supported by evidence on record.
Since Lacson denied their motion for reconsideration, Nellas said the next course of action for the four former OPA employees is to file an appeal directly before the Civil Service Commission.
Earlier this month, Lacson dismissed engineers German Abihay, Ramelo Letran and Rezin Palacios, and project development assistant Maria Luisa Abano following their alleged drinking binge during an “official travel” in Victorias.
After being slapped with show cause orders last year, one of the OPA employees replied stating it was “an insult to refuse the hospitality of the counterpart of an agriculturist of Victorias.”
Aside from being dismissed, the four were also penalized with the forfeiture of their retirement benefits, cancellation of eligibility and perpetual disqualification from holding public office. They were also barred from taking civil service examinations./DGB, WDJ