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Guv backs suspended prov’l administrator

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• GILBERT P. BAYORAN

Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson yesterday backed Provincial Administrator Atty. Rayfrando Diaz, who was slapped with a six month suspension without pay, allegedly for “conflict of interest,” as he stressed “I personally believe that he has done nothing wrong.”

Diaz said on Tuesday that he is filing a motion for reconsideration on the decision of the Ombudsman Visayas suspending him for six months without pay, in connection with the administrative charges filed against him and two others, for alleged grave abuse of authority, grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty, oppression, serious dishonesty, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the public, and violation of RA No. 6713.

Similar charges were also filed against Provincial Legal Officer Atty. Alberto Nellas and Executive Assistant II Chery Sheil Valenzuela, the Provincial Bids and Awards secretary.

The complaints, filed by Atty. Roxenne Sumanting stemmed from the alleged failure of respondents to provide legal assistance or representation to the Binalbagan municipal government, in connection with an expropriation case that the municipality filed with the Regional Trial Court of Himamaylan, and conflict of interest on the part of respondents, Diaz and Valenzuela, who appeared as counsels for JLL Agriculture & Development (JLL), one of the defendants in the expropriation case during their incumbencies as Provincial Administrator and Executive Assistant II, respectively.

While Diaz filed a motion to withdraw appearance, the same is not voluntary as he wrote in the said pleading that he is withdrawing upon request of court.

There has been no voluntariness on his act. Neither was there a showing of remorse or regret for having opposed an entity he ought to uphold and protect, the court said.

By order dated June 9, 2020, the court added that it denied the withdrawal, hence, Diaz, is still representing JLL against Binalbagan.

“We are going to file a motion for reconsideration… because we did not act in conflict with the government, or to the disadvantage of any local government,” Diaz stressed.

If a motion for reconsideration is filed, the suspension would be put on hold, he added.

Diaz however said he is preparing for the worst, citing the way the case is being decided.

Diaz added that he will respect the decision of Gov. Lacson, on how they will proceed with the suspension order.

When asked about the matter, Lacson said “the way I understand, nothing is final yet.” But the governor said he will ask Diaz what’s the legal option left for him.

Valenzuela was also suspended for six months without pay by the Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman, however, dismissed the administrative complaint against Provincial Legal Officer Atty. Alberto Nellas Jr., for lack of merit.*

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