Sacked MGB subordinate in Caraga sues boss; mining firm also files suit

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/04 July)— Caraga Region Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) regional director Roger de Dios, who was earlier relieved, has filed an administrative case against his superior, MGB national director Leo Jasareno.

This developed as mining firm Shuley Mine Inc. also filed an indirect contempt charge against Jasareno, who said he will face the charges leveled at him.

In a press conference here Thursday, de Dios said he filed the charge against his boss because “he was denied due process and that his relief was done arbitrarily.”

De Dios noted he was not given a chance to air his side.

Environment Secretary Ramon Paje issued a memorandum last May 10 ordering the immediate relief of de Dios from his post.

Paje said that de Dios’s relief order was based on the complaint submitted by the Privatization Management Office (PMO) to the Mining Inter-Agency Coordinating Council last May 8, 2013.

De Dios said the relief order violated his right to due process, claiming also that Paje and Jasareno violated the Commission on Election ban on replacing government officials during an election period.

But de Dios did not include Paje in the case that he filed “because it was Jasareno who allegedly kept on calling de Dios to stop issuing an ore transport permit (OTP) to Shuley Mine but without a written order.”

De Dios told reporters that he filed for his reinstatement as MGB Caraga director before the Civil Service Commission last month.

He filed the administrative complaint against Jasareno and PMO Undersecretary Karen Singson before the Office of the Ombudsman “for ordering him to disobey a court order.”

De Dios claimed he was ordered to stop issuing OTP to Shuley Mine, which operates in Nonoc Island in Surigao City, particularly by Jasareno through phone calls.

He said he asked Jasareno several times to issue a written order stopping him from issuing OTP to Shuley Mine, but he added he got no reply from his boss.

“So what is my basis for not issuing an ore transport [permit] against this mining firm? If I do so, I will be sued by the mining firm,” de Dios said.

De Dios said his relief as Caraga MGB regional director can be construed as a form of “constructive dismissal.”

Although de Dios was not transferred to other regions, he said he feels the government is at the losing end since he is still receiving his salary and other benefits without doing anything but just sitting in the office.

De Dios contended that his relief was against Article IX-B, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the Philippine Constitution, which provides that “no officer or employee of the civil service shall be removed or suspended except for cause provided by law.”

He said he “did not disobey his superiors” pertaining to the operation of Shuley Mines in Nonoc Island, which was the ultimate basis cited in the relief order.

De Dios pointed out that his issuance of OTP to Shuley Mines was in compliance to an existing writ of injunction preventing MGB from stopping the operations of the mining company.

“I am just following the court order and I have informed my superiors of every action I made,” he said.

Shuley Mine was granted the temporary restraining order against MGB in July 2011 after the agency issued a stoppage order against the mining firm in May 2011.

That injunction remains in effect, according to a draft complaint given to reporters.

De Dios earlier said that when he assumed the post last October, he was obliged to follow the court order, lest he will be cited in contempt of court.

Last Monday, Shuley Mine filed an indirect complaint against Jasareno before a court here, company official Jacob Arroyo said.

In a text message, Jasareno told MindaNews that they will face the charges and defend the actions of the government. (Roel Catoto/MindaNews)