TABUK CITY, KALINGA – Governor Jocel Baac formally resumed office on Monday, December 11, after a six-month long suspension.
Baac was suspended by the Ombudsman on June 9 upon finding merit on charges of abuse of authority and conduct unbecoming of a public official filed by the Provincial Board. In 2015, he allegedly manhandled Provincial Board Secretary Matthew Matbagan after the former lost his temper over a resolution to close down the Kalinga Gabriella Mija Kim Medical Center.
In his speech on Monday’s flag-raising ceremony attended by members of the Provincial Board, heads of national-line agencies, and government employees, he called his suspension a “test of political endurance” that at first was difficult to accept “because it was all the result of our personal dedication to serve the interest of our people, especially their health security.”
“But I have to take full personal responsibility because that is the nature of a servant fully accountable to my oath of office,” Baac said.
He spoke of his “renewed vigor” in returning to public service. “I have committed myself precisely for this purpose with focus and this will serve as my philosophy throughout my political career – a committed, dedicated and responsible leadership that is accountable to reflect our peoples’ desire for a good government that is responsive to their needs and progress,” he said.
Baac praised the performance of Vice Governor James Edduba as Acting Governor in his absence. “I am happy that when I turned over the reins of government 6 months ago to Vice Gov. James Edduba who served temporarily as governor, through your cooperation, he has successfully discharged the duties and responsibilities of the office.”
Five months into Edduba’s role as Acting Governor, Kalinga was awarded its fifth consecutive Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) Award.
The news, although generally well-received, was not spared from negative reactions with critics repeatedly questioning the credibility of Kalinga’s achievement on social media. “Some people call this award a sham or counterfeit or pretend, but truth and justice prevailed and the government cannot pretend because they based their observations and conclusion on hard facts or evidence,” Baac said.
“We did not seek this merit. We just performed well in the natural course of business with our concerted effort. We serve the interest of our people,” he added.
The chief local executive commended employees “who remained faithful in the observance of your oath of office and in the performance of your duties and responsibilities.” He sought their usual cooperation and commitment in his government’s pursuit of progress, particularly on infrastructure development.
“We have a lot of work to do and let us do it together. With us all moving forward, we will achieve greater things and recognition like the SGLG, increase in our development funds from PRDP WB, CMGP/Kalsada programs,” he said.
By Iryll Sicnao