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Duterte on firing spree

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PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte will again fire another official today amid alleged irregularities, the Palace said Tuesday.

In a radio interview, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said Duterte wanted the official to be fired on Sunday, but said he was able to convince the Chief Executive to defer announcing the dismissal until today, Jan. 3.

“Actually, I was supposed to announce the firing of someone… He wanted me to announce the firing. I told him let’s not do it, Mr. President. Let’s allow the official to have a happy New Year,” Roque told radio dzBB.

“Let’s just dismiss the official on Jan. 3,” he said, details of which are expected during the first Malacañang regular press briefing today.

While Roque did not identify the official, he emphasized that the President disliked those who are corrupt and those who frequently go on junkets or trips using government funds.

“He hates the corrupt, those who frequently go on junkets. He already said that before that he closely watches government officials who are fond of joining trips abroad,” Roque said in Filipino.

“Because when you attend junkets, you spend the people’s money that should have been used to address their needs. And aside from that, you lose time for your responsibilities in the government.”

Among prominent officials who were axed were Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno, Dangerous Drugs Board chief Dionisio Santiago, and Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor Terry Ridon.

In a separate radio interview, Roque said that police officials will also be axed this week, after they were found to be involved in illegal activities.

Roque did not say how many cops the President has decided to fire but said they were all given due process.

Roque said Duterte’s recent firings show that the Chief Executive is serious about eradicating corruption and incompetency in government.

But critics have accused the President of a double standard, after he has kept former Customs commissioner Nicanor Faeldon in service, even after he was tagged in the smuggling of P6.4 billion worth of shabu into the country. Faeldon was recently appointed by the President to the Office of Civil Defense.

The Palace, meanwhile, said it is considering the replacement of some key officials of the Energy Regulatory Commission, after the Office of the Ombudsman suspended four of its commissioners for a year for giving undue advantage to the Manila Electric Co. by allowing it to sign power supply deals without the required bidding.

Newly appointed ERC chairman Agnes Devanadera had warned of “severe paralysis” if the Palace does not act on the issue, since all pending service applications would remain unsolved.

In a radio interview, Roque admitted that the Office of the Executive Secretary is having a hard time in deciding the future of ERC, but is fully aware of the grave consequences of not taking action.

He said Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea was studying the Ombudsman’s suspension order to see if the President can replace the commissioners.

“But the problem is, the commissioners of ERC had fixed terms—so we’re studying this carefully,” he said.

Another option, Roque said, was to appoint officers-in-charge so that the ERC could continue to function while the commissioners are suspended.

He added that the government would not allow the ERC to be paralyzed.

Commissioners Gloria Yap-Taruc, Alfredo Non, Josefina Patricia Magpale-Asirit and Geronimo Sta. Ana were all suspended by the Office of the Ombudsman for one year over alleged anomalous power supply deals with 38 companies, seven of which were affiliated with the Manila Electric Co. 

Dismissed ERC chairman Jose Salazar was also found liable for the same offense but was only penalized with a fine equivalent to six months of his salary. President Duterte fired Salazar in October on corruption allegations.


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