• GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The use of a government vehicle beyond office hours led to the dismissal from the government service and forfeiture of benefits of four employees assigned at the Office of the Provincial Agriculture (OPA).
Provincial Legal Officer Atty. Alberto Nellas Jr. yesterday said that the four respondents, namely Engrs. Ramelo Letran, German Abihay, Rezin Palacios and Project Development Assistant Maria Luisa Abaño, were found guilty of grave misconduct.
Based on substantial evidence on record, they are hereby dismissed from service, Nellas said in a 12-page decision dated January 3, approved by Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson.
They still have the remedy to make an appeal with the Civil Service Commission, he added.
On the other hand, the hearing of the fifth OPA employee, Engr. Jimbo Garsula, who has a pending suspension order, is still ongoing as he opted for a formal investigation.
The dismissal from service of four Capitol OPA employees stemmed from the use of Capitol Cab Service Vehicle, a Toyota Innova, on July 15 last year, beyond the Travel Order issued to them and beyond office hours, according to Nellas.
He said the OPA employees engaged in a drinking spree at a seafood restaurant in Victorias City, beyond office hours and in violation of the travel authority issued to them, while engaging the services of Capitol Cab driver, Lemuel Gravino, who had waited them at the Victorias City Hall at past 8 p.m., despite their meeting at the City Hall ending early, refusing to head back to the Provincial Capitol.
He added that the four dismissed employees failed to present evidence that will controvert the findings of their investigations.
Asked if the decision is a bit harsh, Nellas replied “Public office is a public trust. We are accountable to the public, since this is a taxpayer’s money.”
It should serve as an example, that it should not abused, he stressed.
Aside from the OPA cases, the Provincial Legal Office is also investigating complaints against several Capitol employees assigned at the Provincial Disaster Management Program Division for alleged irregularities and rude behavior.*