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Jun 8, 2018

Ex-Lands Officer Says He was Forced Out of Department

Seven public officers from the Ministry of Natural Resources were terminated, according to a press release from the Ministry of Natural Resources last week. Additionally, the ministry made clear that none of them are henceforth authorized to conduct business on the ministry’s behalf. No further details or reasons were given. Of the seven fired public servants, the most senior is former National Estate Officer Amin Bobadilla. Five of the remaining six hail from the Orange Walk District, though three were assigned to district offices.  Evrit Matute was working in the Cayo office, Noel Centeno was stationed in the Corozal office and Gustavo Gongora was assigned to the Belize District office. Two others, Manolo Toledano and Marla Longsworth, were based in Belmopan and Dangriga, respectively. And then there is Miguel Lopez, the former district officer based in San Ignacio. He believes his firing was a result of discrimination by the Lands Commissioner, Wilbert Vallejos, who he says was aided and abetted by Bobadilla’s replacement, Ivan Leiva. After initially refusing to write his performance assessment, on which his salary was based, he turned in a poor one on Lopez’s behalf, and an error on Lopez’s own part led to his demise. Appearing off-camera, he shared his frustration with News Five today.

 

Voice of: Miguel Lopez, Terminated from Lands Department

“The assessment was supposed to be done at the end of November; Mr. [Wilbert] Vallejos did it in February of 2018, with ‘lone’ D’s and a failing grade. And then he did an assessment stating that his office does not recommend me for the post.”

 

Aaron Humes

“To continue as district [lands officer]?”

 

Voice of: Miguel Lopez

“And then I submitted a rebuttal; I gave evidence because he accused of many things. I was in Belmopan when three detectives went there and they arrested me and took me to the Belmopan Police Station. And they told me I had an accusation from Mr. Wilbert Vallejos and Ms. Sharon Ramclam, the C.E.O., of indirect threats.”

 

Aaron Humes

“This is in relation to your repeated requests to have them do your performance appraisals and so – they thought you were threatening them?”

 

Voice of: Miguel Lopez

“That is part of it. I was also accused that my mom and my family members have land; that my mom has eighty acres in Los Tambos area and that is not true. And my mom made an appointment to see Mr. Vallejos and she told Mr. Vallejos that she has no land and it’s not true.”

 

Lopez says his family got those lands in an arrangement while Gaspar Vega was Minister and he has been faithfully paying rent and has in fact purchased three of the lots, while applications are pending for the others. He also denied other accusations of impropriety, while charging some fellow former employees with alleged corrupt activities of their own. Lopez explained that while on his way to a hearing with the Public Service Commission, he accidentally ticked yes on a copy of his performance assessment, giving the mistaken impression he agreed with it. That was enough for the Commission to terminate him in April. He has now engaged an attorney and the case is before the Belize Advisory Council.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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3 Responses for “Ex-Lands Officer Says He was Forced Out of Department”

  1. spike says:

    If anybody should be terminated it’s Wilbert Vallejos.

  2. Marie says:

    Haha, you all need to be FIRED for taking government land. Where do you get money to pay for 80 acres, plus cutting grass and trees. I hope they get the rest of past and present ministers.

  3. Mik says:

    True, true Mr Vallejos so lyiad and crocheted that he even scared ah him own shadow. He doesn’t see the people, he assumes everyone like him and makes doing real estate business in bze next to impossible. I wonder how many people got burn by him. Maybe a class action against him and lands should be filed!

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