Fate of 4 Bukidnon officials in hospital fund controversy rests on Zubiri

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/02 July) – Final action on the recommended dismissal of a provincial government official and three hospital administrators who were implicated in alleged anomalies last year involving hospital funds is now in the hands of Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr., former governor Alex P. Calingasan said on Monday.

The four, who were earlier meted a 2-month preventive suspension are Marie Carmen Unabia, provincial economic enterprise management officer; Corazon Jamero, hospital administrator of the Bukidnon Provincial Medical Center (BPMC); Dr. Janet Mercadera, hospital administrator of Bukidnon Provincial Hospital (BPH)-Maramag; and Elvira Roa, supervising administrative officer of BPH-Kibawe.

Calingasan charged the four along with five other hospital officials on October 31 last year with “serious dishonesty in the course of official duties” over their use of petty cash in purchasing medicines.

Calingasan, who is back to his former position as vice governor, said he approved the recommendation of the Provincial Discipline Committee for the dismissal of the four officials based on the Revised Rules on Administrative Cases in Civil Service (RRACCS).

But he said his approval will be subject to review and final decision by the new governor.

He explained he no longer had time to execute the decision since the committee gave him its recommendation only last week.

He admitted to MindaNews on June 26 that it was one of the most difficult decisions he has ever made as a government official.

“I didn’t want to hurt anybody as I always give chance to every erring employee,” he added.

Calingasan said that while the decision may be against his principles in life “I might reconsider” if it is what the people wanted.

Mercy Ibcas, who was acting administrator and chair of the committee until June 30, said via telephone that they only followed the provision of the RRACCS on the serious dishonesty charges against the four.

RRACCS Rule 10 Section 46A.1 states that serious dishonesty is a grave offence punishable by dismissal from government service.

The alleged anomaly has been dubbed by others “one of the biggest controversies to hit the provincial government.”

Unabia told MindaNews late Monday afternoon they would reserve further comments until they receive their copy of the order.

Calingasan cited earlier that the preliminary investigation report presented to the discipline committee by the special investigating committee “has uncovered in the course of its fact finding investigation several unauthorized transactions involving the use of hospital petty cash funds.”

In his memorandum then, he described as “anomalous” the unauthorized use of petty cash funds in the purchase of medicines and other supplies. He directed the officials to “answer within five days from receipt,” reminded them of their right to a counsel, and “whether you elect to have a formal investigation of the charge.”

In a press conference later that week, Zubiri identified the respondents as Unabia, Jamero, Mercadera, Roa, BPH-San Fernando administrative officer Daryl Minguez, BPH-Manolo Fortich administrator Judy Pancrudo, BPH-Talakag administrative officer Mario Cedeño, BPH-Kalilangan administrative officer Merlyn Calam, and BPH-Malitbog administrative officer Juanito Kilem.

Unabia has earlier denied the charges and maintained they have not done any irregularities.

Ibcas said Cedeño and Kilem were absolved while Minguez and Calam, who were found to have “less grave offense”, were suspended for a month each.

The charges against Pancrudo, who is currently on study leave abroad, was held in abeyance until her return. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)

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