A couple weeks ago we reported on the dismissal of three high ranked officers at the Ministry of Natural Resources on the grounds of corruption. The Registrar of Lands and Deputy Commissioner of Lands along with National Estate Officer Darlene Padron were reportedly fired under directives from the Prime Minister, Dean Barrow himself. In an interview with Commissioner of Lands Wilbert Vallejos, many days after the report surfaced, he clarified the situation but pointed out, or should we say reiterated that there is rampant corruption in the department of lands.

 


Screen_Shot_2014-03-06_at_8.19.53_PMWilbert Vallejos, Commissioner of Lands


“The National Estate Officer, Miss Darlene Padron, has been transferred to a different ministry—a ministry where she can be of much more assistance—taking into consideration that she has a degree in sustainable development so she has been transferred to the Ministry of Fisheries and Sustainable Development. The other officer who has gone through a change is the deputy commissioner who has tendered his resignation as deputy commissioner of lands and service.”


Reporter


“Sir, we understand, well we know that all three officers were very close to Minister of Natural Resources, Gaspar Vega. We understand also that the instructions to move them came from no less than the Prime Minister. Could you verify if that is true or not? And if so, could you tell us if there are allegations of some sort of corruption? It is strange that three senior officers, those officers in particular, were just arbitrarily moved.”


Wilbert Vallejos- Commissioner Of Lands 


“Well I don’t know if they were moved as a consequence of corruption. If we wanted to attempt to do that, we will have to move probably the entire department. But certainly, like I said, they were moved strategically. There have been a certain request…I have never gotten any directive from the Prime Minister. I know that Miss Darlene Patron has been transferred as a consequence of analyzing and looking at the situation where she can be of better help and assistance in another ministry and giving someone else an opportunity who has a more in depth knowledge on land administration. Mister Hernandez felt that maybe it was time for him to move up or go out and he resigned. He submitted his resignation.”


Reporter


“Sir are you fatigued by the various acts of…the Prime Minister said that ministry is a hotbed of corruption. Are you aware of this and are you fatigued by it?”


Wilbert Vallejos- Commissioner Of Lands


“I am aware of it. I was aware of it from the very first day I joined the department; that was sixteen years ago. And I joined the public officers, the people who want to see acts of corruption minimized. I don’t know that we have the power to eliminate corruption entirely. I believe only god can do that. But yes, I’m fatigued with what I see and not necessarily coming from this level or that level. Corruption exists in many forms and manners. When a file goes missing, when a false report is missing, when a picture of another parcel is provided so much that there are sent to the people who are making the decisions and as a consequence of that we do not make the best decision possible because we sit in an office and we depend on the information that is provided to us. So to answer your question, yes, it fatigues, me, it fatigues anybody—anybody who wants to see a system move forward in the best way possible.”

 

Vallejos adds that there has not been any changes done to the employment status of the Deputy Registrar of Lands, Barony Hernandez as had been reported.

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