Facing two administrative cases, namely, grave misconduct and gross insubordination, Negros Occidental Provincial Accountant Merly Fortu, a 30 year public office veteran has indeed put herself in hot water. Placing a possibility of getting dismissed from service, on the first day in office of the new set of Provincial Officials, Merly Fortu allegedly acted with arrogance and discourtesy to the listening Governor, V-Governor, Members of the Provincial Board, The Provincial Treasurer and the Adminstrator in a conference called to thresh out problems with accounting and other financial operations of the provincial government. She appointed herself, Spokesperson, and challenged everyone present, with a raised and agitated voice, to just resort to court action, if they have any questions with regard to the accounting and auditing rules, implemented by her office.
If this is true, it is quite a discourtesy, not only to your Chief Executive, but as well as to your Policy Making Body. In that aspect, Vice Governor Genaro Alvarez, whose original purpose in that meeting, was to find out solutions to problems concerning them and their operation, just did the right thing when he filed formal complaints, to address this issue. And also, on the part of the Provincial Board, when BM Melvin Ibanez, filed a resolution which was unanimously approved, condemning Fortu in the strongest terms possible for her “gross discourtesy in the course of official duty, tantamount to conduct unbecoming of a government employee, and/or grave misconduct. This action of the Board, is quite strong and almost an “overkill”, but no one, including me, can question the sentiments expressed by the Board in that resolution, but only the Board, itself, for as long as it is done in the process of the within prescribed functions of the legislature, it is moot and academic.
Further, the words of Board Members Nehemias dela Cruz (1st District) and Joben Alonso (4th District), who were present during the meeting, who told media, it was really Fortu who shouted at them and that they said, they were insulted with the conduct of the provincial accountant, with Board Member dela Cruz, further saying, “We were like elementary pupils being scolded by our teacher…and that, there was arrogance on her part”, undeniably gave weight and substance, to the merits of the case.
I agree, that the government employees, more than any ordinary citizens, should give the duly elected higher ranking officials, the due respect, they so deserved. If you, as a civil servant, respect the people, whom you are bound to give service to, so much so, should you respect the officials, that these people have chosen, to deliver the services they need from their government, of course, for as long as it is within the bounds of the law.
On the other hand, having known Merly Fortu for quite some while, like what Governor Maranon had said, I am also super shocked. I did not know her to be arrogant, but strict and extra careful with government funds. During my term as a Board Member, whenever I have problems with the province’s accounting procedures, I would go to her and discuss my concerns, and she would gladly help me, and if it requires time to resolve, she would assign me to the next in rank Atty. Cabalatungan. In most cases, before I stand in the podium, to deliver my privelege speech, to address that issue, it is already resolved peacefully.
Meanwhile, Fortu, who is currently temporarily suspended for sixty days without the benefit of setting in footsteps to her office and its nearby surroundings, while the case is in progress, and whose next hearing is set next week, July 27 or 28, through a “motion to inhibit” filed, believes, that Governor Maranon should inhibit himself and that the case should be referred to the Civil Service Commission, for hearing and adjudication.