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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Palace unaware of Diño’s new official position

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Malacañang denied appointing former Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority chairman Martin Diño for an undersecretary post at the Department of the Interior and Local Government, contrary to his claims made Wednesday.

“As of this date, the President has not appointed Mr. Martin Diño to any position in the Department of the Interior and Local Government [DILG] or in any instrumentality of government,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.

The Palace made the clarification after Diño, who held a press conference in Manila, confirmed that he had accepted an undersecretary post at the DILG, but without lamenting being unceremoniously eased out from the agency which he led for less than a year.

“I was called to Malacañang and I was offered a position— Undersecretary for Barangay Affairs. I was called by Bong Go and Executive Secretary Medialdea,” said Diño, who served as substitute candidate for the administration party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino—Lakas ng Bayan until then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte decided to run for the position.

“I’m a good soldier. If I will be effective there then I will accept the offer. Actually, I already accepted it,” he said.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, however, said Duterte removed Diño from his previous post following complaints about “the way he was running the SBMA.”

“Marami rin akong nakausap na investors dun. Ayaw nila si Diño,” he said in a news briefing at Quezon City Wednesday, adding he advised businessmen to outline their concerns in a letter to the president.

Duterte had the matter investigated and decided “effectively” to sack Diño by assigning a concurrent SBMA chairman and administrator, Panelo said.

While he harbors no ill feelings towards Duterte after losing his post to now SBMA Chairman Wilma Eisma, he insisted that he would still pursue the cases he filed against 13 SBMA officials with the Office of the Ombudsman.

“The cases should continue because I did not invent these. There is a COA [Commission on Audit] report. All they [SBMA officials] have to do is answer the charges,” Diño said.

Last July, Diño filed a complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman, seeking to charge 13 SBMA officials with malversation, grave misconduct, serious dishonesty, and grave abuse of authority over unaccounted assets.

Citing a report by the Commission on Audit, he claimed that the SBMA has assets worth almost P27 billion which remained unaccounted.

The former SBMA chairman also claimed that he was unceremoniously booted out of office, blaming Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra for the “lack of notice.”

“I was wondering why I was being stared at, why they were whispering. It turned out I no longer had a position. I wasn’t even informed,” he said.

On Tuesday, Duterte ended the power struggle in the SBMA after issuing Executive Order No. 42, defining the powers and functions of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority Administrator and its directors.

The power struggle in the agency started when Malacañang last year appointed lawyer Randy Escolango as SBMA officer in charge.

Diño refused to recognize Malacañang’s order, then claimed he assumed the functions of both SBMA chairman and administrator.

Escolango, who resigned, was replaced by Eisma, who was appointed Dec. 21.

The SBMA has jurisdiction over the 67,000-hectare Subic Bay Freeport Zone and all the coastal boundaries of Subic Bay.

It has registered 1,115 companies with US$6.0 billion worth of investment that has generated more than 87,000 jobs.   

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