THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said that the director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Demosthenes R. Escoto, has been dismissed following an order from the Office of the Ombudsman.

“The Ombudsman’s order, forwarded to the office of the DA chief for implementation, found (Mr.) Escoto guilty of grave misconduct in a graft case arising from BFAR procurement of communications equipment in 2018,” the DA said in a statement.

The DA said that Mr. Escoto can seek reconsideration of the Ombudsman’s decision or may appeal the ruling to the Court of Appeals.

Mr. Escoto was appointed the bureau’s national director in 2023.

Agriculture Secretary Francisco P. Tiu Laurel, Jr. named Isidro Velayo, Jr. as BFAR officer-in-charge (OIC) following the decision.

Mr. Laurel added that “my marching orders to (Mr. Velayo) are to ensure that operations of the agency are not affected by this legal development,” he said.

Mr. Velayo had served as the BFAR’s director and assistant director for technical services.

“(He) was a former national coordinator of BFAR’s seaweed program and previously regional director for the Zamboanga Peninsula,” the DA said.

Mr. Escoto did not immediately reply to a Viber message seeking comment. — Adrian H. Halili