by Fernan A. Gianan
Governor Joseph Cua would not have made the step of prematurely assuming his office ahead of the expiration of his one-year suspension on April 30, 2020 had it not been for his new lawyer.
It was Atty. Maria Nympha Mandagan who counseled the governor into assuming office last week even without a formal order from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
The woman lawyer, according to people close to the governor, is a frequent visitor to the Ombudsman and Sandiganbayan offices and courts where the bulk of her cases have been filed.
A native of Ilagan, Isabela who passed the Bar in 1996, she is handling the defense of many Philippine National Police (PNP) generals and lower-ranked officers accused of anomalies.
Atty. Mandagan was the former lead counsel of former PNP Director General Avelino Razon Jr., who along with other officers have been charged for graft and malversation in the alleged anomalous repair and maintenance of 28 light armored vehicles for P400 million in 2007.
She is also the lawyer of former Chief Superintendent Raul Petrasanta, who along with several other officers have been accused of 25 counts of graft in connection with the reported AK-47 rifle scam, in which 1,004 missing high-powered AK-47 firearms were allegedly sold to the New People’s Army (NPA).
Incidentally, she also faced a disbarment complaint filed before the Supreme Court by her former client, Pedro Ramos, sometime before 2016 for gross misconduct in violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR).
In suspending her from the practice of law for one year beginning April 2016, the Supreme Court found her guilty of the CPR and warned that a similar offense will be dealt with more severely.
The Court said Atty. Mandagan never denied receiving the amount of ₱300,000.00 from Ramos for the purpose of posting a bond to secure the latter’s provisional liberty. It said she failed to return the amount when the petition for bail was denied by the Sandiganbayan.,
According to Rule 16.01 of Canon 16 of the CPR, a lawyer shall account for all money or property collected or received for or from the client.
She served the penalty and was reinstated into the practice of law a year later.
Last October 2019, the Civil Service Commission memorandum circular on the revised guidelines on the settlement of cash advances and penalties to be imposed for the failure to liquidate came into effect.
Under the new rules, an accountable officer who, after formal demand by the auditor, makes a full settlement of the cash advance with valid justification and no aggravating circumstances shall be absolved of any administrative liability. Those who cannot present such a justification will be liable for simple neglect of duty and suspended from the service for one month and one day. Those whose cases have aggravating circumstances shall be suspended for three months.
On the other hand, those who made partial liquidation shall be liable for simple neglect of duty and meted a suspension of one to three months, subject to certain conditions.
Failure to liquidate, whether partial or full, would mean liability for Gross Neglect of Duty and be meted the penalty of dismissal from the government service for the first offense.
The members of the Catanduanes International Association (CIA) arrived last Sunday morning via commercial flight from Manila. They will be conducting their 10th Medical Mission here from Jan. 24-29, 2020 at the Eastern Bicol Medical Center, with the help of the capitol.
THE SENIORS. Senior citizens at a retirement village are exchanging notes about their ailments.
“My arm is so weak I can hardly hold this coffee cup.”
“Yes, I know. May cataracts are so bad I can’t see to pour the coffee.”
“I can’t turn my head because of the arthritis in my neck.”
“My blood pressure pills make me dizzy.”
“I guess that’s the price we pay for getting old.”
“Well, it’s not all bad. We should be thankful that we can still drive!”