Bukidnon Governor Zubiri airs side on suspension order from Ombudsman

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BUKIDNON NEWS – Following an order from the Office of the Ombudsman suspending him for 6 months, Bukidnon Governor Jose Ma. Zubiri, Jr. is seeking a review, insisting that the order was “clearly by mistake.”

Zubiri, who was found guilty of grave abuse of authority and oppression by the Ombudsman, said in a statement that he was not the governor in January 2013, the period when he allegedly refused to sign the clearance and act on the request for commutation of former Provincial Assessor Carlos Ycaro.

“The Ombudsman ordered the suspension of the wrong governor,” he said, adding that it was impossible for him to have committed the omissions because he was not the sitting governor at the time. “I simply did not have the authority to sign clearances.”

Alex Calingasan, who was governor then and currently a Provincial Board Member, was the sitting governor during January 2013.

According to the Monday ruling by the Office of the Ombudsman, the case stemmed from an incident last January 2013 when Governor Zubiri refused to sign the clearance and act on the request for commutation of former Provincial Assessor Carlos Ycaro.

Zubiri allegedly claimed that Ycaro could not be cleared due to “missing chairs” under his property accountability. The Ombudsman, however, ruled that this cannot “serve as valid excuse to deny approval of his application for leave commutation, especially where he has more than 300 days in commutable leave credits.”

This then led to Zubiri being found guilty of grave abuse of authority amounting to oppression. The Bukidnon governor was also faulted for violating the Code of Ethical Standards for Public Officials for “completely ignoring the two communications of complainant, addressed to his office” or the obligation to respond to letters and requests within 15 working days.

The Ombudsman has directed the Department of the Interior and Local Government to carry out the suspension.

The Bukidnon governor is the father of Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri and the uncle of Malaybalay City Mayor Ignacio Zubiri.

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