Cycle of firing and hiring: Duterte’s record of reappointments

June 21, 2018 - 5:04 PM
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President Rodrigo Duterte, then a candidate of the 2016 elections (Reuters/ file photo)

President Rodrigo Duterte fired his own officials many times over the past years before hiring them again for posts in other agencies.

On Monday, however, the president said he would not offer officials who have committed mistakes another opportunity.

“Pag nagkamali ka (If you make a mistake), I won’t give you a second chance. No fucking second chance because I do not own this government,” Duterte said during the anniversary celebration of the Government Service Insurance System on June 19.

To assert his claim of disdain on corruption, the chief executive has been on a “firing spree” of officials to rid the government of even a “whiff of corruption.”

However, some of those he had asked to resign were transferred to other government positions, as some social media users observed.

The most recent is former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre who was nominated to be part of the Social Security System board of trustees only two months after his resignation. Before he stepped down as justice chief, Aguirre was in hot water for his agency’s dismissal of the cases of two suspected drug lords despite an ongoing brutal campaign against illegal narcotics.

Trying to counter criticisms of being a “recycled” official, Aguirre said he was nominated even before he resigned from the justice department.

Some of the officials removed from their posts who were reassigned to other government agencies are:

  1. Nicanor Faeldon – from customs chief to deputy administrator III of the Office of Civil Defense
  2. Jose Gabriel La Viña – from SSS commissioner to undersecretary of the Department of Tourism
  3. Melissa Avanceña-Ardanas – from Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor commissioner to deputy secretary general of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council
  4. Ernesto Abella – from presidential spokesperson to head of strategic communications of the Department of Foreign Affairs
  5. Joan Lagunda – from PCUP commissioner to assistant secretary for legislative affairs and strategic partnerships of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources
  6. Manuel Serra Jr. – from PCUP commissioner to Philippine Coconut Authority board member
  7. Vincent Maronilla – from Manila International Port district collector to assistance commissioner of the Bureau of Customs
  8. Milo Maestrecampo – from Import Assessment service director to assistant director of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines
  9. Gerardo Gambala – from Customs deputy commissioner to director of the Office of Transportation Security
  10. Teddy Raval – from Customs deputy commissioner for intelligence to deputy commissioner for enforcement group
  11. Ariel Nepomuceno – from Customs deputy commissioner for enforcement group to deputy commissioner for Post Clearance Audit Group

A few of the officials were perceived to have erred or were in charge of agencies tagged in some scandals.

“The opposite to what you are saying are happening. Erring officials are neither convicted or punished. They are just reassigned. They are never even asked to return their loot,” one user observed.

Malacañang, meanwhile, argued that appointing officials, even those he had initially asked to resign for his anti-corruption campaign, is Duterte’s “prerogative.”

“As far as the president is concerned, he has fired more than 20, all of whom are very close to him. We’ll let the people be the judge on this regard,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.