• GILBERT P. BAYORAN
It appears that the timely resignation of Alnel “Potchie” Taba as division chief of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist has spared him from further investigation into the missing 789 bags of fertilizers at the Rice Processing Center warehouse in Brgy. Tabunan, Bago City, Negros Occidental.
Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson yesterday admitted that Taba “is not within the reach of the province,” as he already resigned from his post.
Dismissed Capitol employee Herminigildo Basilio claimed that he only followed the instruction of Taba to facilitate the receipt of 1,920 bags of fertilizers from Juantong Agri-Ventures at around 3 p.m. on July 4 last year.
In a statement, Basilio added the fertilizers were completely unloaded to the warehouse, acknowledged by the watchman/guard on duty, and recorded in their logbook.
He further claimed that he was made as a scapegoat in the missing fertilizer issue.
Asked if they will investigate Taba, Lacson replied “if you noticed most of our cases are administrative.”
“We don’t really wanna fight criminal cases against any individual,” he said, noting the superior of Basilio already resigned.
It’s not within the administrative reach already. Not anymore within the reach of the province. As I said, we tried to avoid filing criminal cases, Lacson stressed.
Basilio strongly decried his dismissal from service for grave charges without any evidentiary support, stressing also that he thoroughly explained his side in his reply to the Show Cause order issued him, which was supported with documentary evidence, provided the names of persons who should be included in the investigation, “ if such was made to uncover the truth.”
Lacson advised Basilio to file a motion for reconsideration on his dismissal from service. Instead of explaining it to the media, he should explain it a proper venue, the governor further said.
The missing fertilizers has a market value of P2.3 million.
The investigation on the missing fertilizers also prompted Provincial Agriculturist Edmundo Raul Causing to resign, allegedly for health reasons.
In an interview with RMN DYHB, Provincial Legal Officer Atty. Alberto Nellas stood his ground on his decision to recommend the dismissal of Basilio, which was approved by Gov. Lacson, stressing that he was accorded with due process.
Nellas said that Basilio failed to present evidence on the person he wanted to be included in the investigation, noting also that all his issued statements was “self-serving” and “basic denial.”
In his issued statement, Basilio further said that he was no longer in charge of the Rice Processing Center for more than a year, when the 789 bags of fertilizers allegedly went missing, stressing also that he does not have the key to the RPC warehouse.
As to the possible investigation also of the fertilizer supplier, Lacson said “I’m not really sure what we will do with the supplier.” In the meantime, he added, we will just address the actions of our employees.
On the other hand, Lacson recognized that the OPA is a problematic department, which was experienced even by past administrations.
But we try to correct it. Precisely why we have investigations like this, the governor said, stressing also “we will not be sitting down, if we knew that there is an alleged anomaly happening.”*