BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Two lawyers, who formerly occupied key positions in the provincial government of Negros Occidental, are now facing administrative charges, with one of them already retired from the government service, while the other one was slapped with two months preventive suspension without pay.
Provincial Legal Officer Alberto Nellas Jr. said yesterday that the 60-day preventive suspension of lawyer Annabelle Palic, former chief of the Human Resource Management Office, took effect Aug. 10.
The suspension came after Palic was formally charged before the Provincial Legal Office for alleged oppression, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, grave misconduct and for being notoriously undesirable, based on the complaints filed against her by the Progressive Alliance of Capitol Employees.
Nellas also said that former Provincial Agriculturist Japhet Masculino, who had availed of optional retirement last month, was also charged for alleged grave misconduct and dishonesty, in connection with unpaid catering services, and for two “under specs” grain dryers.
Nellas, however, stressed that a preventive suspension is not a penalty, but a precautionary measure to protect the witnesses and evidences.
Based on their findings on the complaints of PACE and records gathered from offices, especially the HR, he said they were able to establish prima facie evidence against Palic.
Palic could not be reached for comment, as of press time.
Nellas said that Palic has been given three days to decide if she will opt for formal investigation hearing, or will submit a position paper where she can present additional evidences.
Palic, who is now assigned as administrative officer of the Negros First Cyber Center, has been temporarily replaced by Filomena Guzon.
The PACE, headed by Renelo Lastierre, thanked Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson yesterday for the action on the cause of the employees against Palic.
Lastierre said that the “pro-worker gesture of the provincial government will always be a landmark in the heart of every worker in the defense of their rights and benefits.”
CASES VS. MASCULINO
Nellas also said the probe against Masculino will continue, even though he has already retired from government service, adding that show-cause orders had been issued against him before his retirement.
“We see the need to formalize the charges against him due to irregularities we have noticed in the catering service procurement,” he said.
But Nellas added they issued to Masculino a certificate of no pendency, so that he can claim his retirement benefits from the Government Service Insurance System, since he was not yet formally charged before his retirement took effect. But he cannot process his leave credit benefits yet, he added.
While the government had not spent any money to pay for the catering services, Nellas said it does not absolve Masculino of any administrative liabilities.
“It’s up to him to explain why there were alterations to the documents, and why he had signed it despite irregularities in the procurement,” Nellas added.
Masculino was also issued a show-cause order in connection with two “under specs” grain dryers.*