Tourism Promotions Board chief operating officer Cesar Montano has resigned from his post days after newly-appointed Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat suspended the P80-million Buhay Carinderia project of the TPB for not going through proper bidding.
As this developed, President Rodrigo Duterte fired Transportation Assistant Secretary Mark Tolentino for initiating deals with his sister for the Mindanao Railway Project.
In a press conference, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said Tolentino’s firing serves as a lesson that no one must engage in any government dealings with the President’s relatives.
“If you speak to any of the President’s relatives, that’s a basis for you to be fired,” Roque said in Filipino.
Montano, for his part, submitted his resignation letter to the President in a letter antedated May 22.
“I am truly grateful for the trust and the opportunity you have bestowed upon me to serve our country through the Tourism Promotions Board,” Montano said.
Romulo-Puyat said she was not comfortable with the practice of the TPB under Montano as she ordered all existing projects that never went through a proper procurement process to be discontinued.
She earlier summoned Montano after a report came out that he paid P80 million in full for the Buhay Carinderia project to Marylindbert International Inc. president and owner Erlinda Legaspi.
Romulo-Puyat then wrote a letter to the Commission on Audit and asked it to look into the Buhay Carinderia project.
Roque, for his part, said the President is giving five government officials until Tuesday (today) to resign before he fires them.
Duterte said on Sunday that he will fire five more government officials, including the head of the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel, for their alleged involvement in graft and corruption.
Duterte made the announcement in Cebu days after he asked Justice Assistant Secretary Moslemen Macarambon Sr. and Public Works Assistant Secretary Tingagun Umpa to resign or be fired.
Roque explained that Duterte may be wanted to give his “best and brightest” political appointees a chance to voluntarily leave their positions before firing them.
Two weeks ago, Tourism secretary Wanda Teo resigned after the Commission on Audit released a report that she appropriated an amount of P60 million for commercial spots in her brother’s TV show in a government-owned station.
Presidential Communications Operations Office Undersecretary Noel Puyat also resigned quietly on May 2.
Reports said that he did this due to alleged irregularities in the P647 million used for an information caravan during the country’s chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 2017.
He denied the accusations, however, and said he resigned because his father asked him to manage the family business.
Also on Monday, the Palace accused the current husband of Lovelie Sangkola Sumera, former wife of presidential son Paolo Duterte for using the President’s surname to fix judicial cases.
Roque also warned all judges and justices not to entertain any “judicial fixers” name dropping the Duterte name to negotiate pending cases.
“We are also warning the public, including judges and justices. The husband of the ex-wife of a child of the President’s is using the name of the President’s grandchild to fix cases,” Roque said.
Roque did not divulge the name of the fixer but said that it was obvious who he was referring to as there is only one partner of a presidential child’s ex-wife.
RJ Sumera, who is a businessman, married Lovelie after her marriage with Paolo Duterte was annulled by a sharia court in 2005.
“He has no authority to use the name of the President or the name of the President’s grandchild,” Roque said.
Lovelie was accused of using the Duterte surname for her own interests in 2016.
Also in 2017, Paolo posted in his official Facebook account that Lovelie had been using the Duterte surname even after their marriage had been long annulled.