The University Student Government (USG) Judiciary branch has found FOCUS2014 Batch Vice President Joseph Magbitang guilty of the gross negligence in a hearing held last February 26 at the USG conference room. College of Science Magistrate Nadine Martinez explained in her verdict that there was contradicting evidence given by both parties.
The case against Magbitang came after a complaint was filed on how he allegedly signed and processed documents for projects within the batch government (BG) without the approval or consent of his immediate superior, FOCUS2014 Batch President Gerald Santiago. The projects were also found to not have gone through the proper channels within the unit, specifically to appointed officers in charge of funding and documentation.
The defendant’s panel, led by Chief Legislator Patrick Kahn, argued that the issue is simply an internal matter within the BG that should have been settled amongst themselves, and should not have elevated to a case in the first place.
Kahn has also appealed to the officers’ inexperience for the incidence as he explains that they are still freshman students.
He also argued that there is no actual merit to the case of gross negligence as he points out that no damages actually occurred, and as he further stressed with the testimonies of the witnesses, the projects were pushed through on good faith.
Meanwhile, the prosecutor’s panel, led by Rafael Rabacca argued the relevance of discussing the internal problems, when it is not the main issue. He explained that the case should be on finding merit on the alleged negligence claim against Magbitang, and not whether or not there were problems in their dynamics.
Rabacca also argued that there was negligence on Magbitang’s part, as he evidenced with the testimonies of his fellow officers stating that he did not run the paperwork through the right people before reaching the desk of the Department of Activity Approval and Monitoring (DAAM).
The impeachment of the batch vice president marks the second instance within the year that an elected official was impeached due to gross negligence. Last January, EXCEL2016 Legislative Assembly Representative Lorenzo Ermitano was also impeached for gross negligence, but due to an excess of unexcused absences.
This also serves as the fourth time that an elected official vacated their position as two previous officers stepped down to complete their degrees in an earlier time.
As of press time, there has yet to be a replacement for the impeached officer, especially since Magbitang’s case is yet to be fully closed as Kahn shared that they have already begun working on their appeal for a reconsideration of the case.