MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE, 5:47 p.m) After previously disclosing that yet another ranking government official was to be sacked, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said late Wednesday morning, January 3, that he had been ordered to “defer” the scheduled announcement.
Roque told a press briefing in Malacañang that he had received a text message “at the beginning of the day” to “hold in abeyance the announcement of who it is to be sacked.”
He added that no reason was given for holding off the announcement.
Duterte has fired a number of government executives, a number of them suddenly, ostensibly because of corruption issues.
“Although I was directed to announce as early as December 30, the instruction was to announce in our next press briefing, which is today (Wednesday). But of course, the beginning of the day, I was asked to defer with the said announcement,” Roque said in his first Palace press briefing for 2018.
Roque said no reason was cited for the postponement but when he inquired with the Presidential Management Staff (PMS), “what they said they gave the President a copy of the legislative charter of the agency headed by the officer.”
“The President was reviewing the legislative charter of that agency,” Roque added.
NOT FROM PCSO OR ERC
Roque clarified that the male official is neither from Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office nor from the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).
Last month, the Ombudsman slapped four ERC commissioners with one-year suspension three months after President Duterte removed ERC chairman Jose Vicente Salazar over questionable contracts.
Roque said the Office of the Executive Secretary is still studying the problem of the ERC.
In the case of the PCSO, Roque said President Duterte knew already the looming conflict between PCSO General Manager Alexander Balutan and PCSO Board Member Sandra Cam.
“I will make the confirmation that the official whom I was tasked to announce is not from the PCSO,” he said.
Cam recently questioned the P6 million spent in a PCSO Christmas party held last December 19.
Roque said President Duterte is serious in cleansing the government of unscrupulous officials.
“The President is also always guided by the Constitution that the government official must serve the republic; they must live a modest life and they must comply with the laws against graft and corruption,” he said.
He explained all presidential appointees serve at the pleasure of the President and that “the President does not even need to cite any good cause because that is the nature of the presidential appointee.”
He added that Duterte has even been telling everyone in government that anyone of his relatives who uses his name does not have authority to use it.
Since he assumed office in mid-2016, President Duterte has dismissed several government officials, including Ismael Sueno as Department of Interior and Local Government secretary; Peter Laviña as head of the National Irrigation Administration; and Presidential Commission on Urban Poor (PCUP) officials, including its chairman Terry Ridon.