The Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) employees’ union has denied writing a letter to President Rodrigo Duterte accusing former DDB chairman Dionisio Santiago of traveling with his family, favored employees, and a supposed mistress on separate occasions to Austria and the United States on narcotics meetings at government expense.
This developed as Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque disclosed that President Rodrigo Duterte had ordered Santiago to step down because of corruption allegations.
“I would like to confirm that General Santiago was let go by the President not only because of his statements on the Mega Rehab Centers being a mistake.
He was also let go because of complaints that General Santiago was using taxpayers’ money for junkets abroad,” Roque said on Monday.
Earlier this month, Santiago quit his post after being told by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea that Duterte wanted him to resign after telling reporters that the 10,000-bed drug rehabilitation center in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija was a mistake.
“That was a mistake. The President was excited (by the project) but money spent building that complex could have been spent for smaller community-based rehabilitation centers that accommodate 150 or 200,” Santiago had said.
In the supposed letter dated October 25, 2017, and shown to the media by Malacañang, the alleged members of the DDB employees’ union “complain and protest” against Santiago “for allowing a big delegation composed of him, his family, and six unqualified and favorite DDB employees to travel to Vienna, Austria to attend an ordinary Narcotic Drug Intersessional meeting at government expense.”
They claimed that even the person who serves his coffee joined the trip.
They also accused him of going to the U.S. in September, “bringing with him his mistress and selective favorite DDB employees, purportedly on official business where their expenses have been charged against DDB funds, purportedly to attend the briefing on the follow-up by the Commission on Narcotics Drugs.”
They also complained about Santiago allegedly designating his predecessor Benjamin Reyes as acting DDB chairman while on the supposed “junket spree”.
They further alleged that Reyes, despite Duterte’s order of dismissal, had been “performing his job and receiving his salaries and allowances at the DDB without a valid appointment up to the present.”
The letter in question was signed by a certain Priscilla Hererra. But according to DDB employees’ union president Joann Desiderio, Hererra has not been a member of the union for almost 10 years now.
“We are explicitly denying the letter came from us, so we are also surprised,” Desiderio told News5. “The one who was supposed to write the letter, she’s not even a union member. I talked to her a while ago. She herself said she did not write this letter. We are still trying to validate who wrote it.”
It was also pointed out that the header of the letter contains a logo that does not match the logo used by the DDB or the employees’ union in formal letters or memoranda.
This was not the first time the employees’ union was used in complaints, according to Desiderio. “We need to put a stop to this. The union should not be used to malign, to issue statements about other people, especially our bosses.”
The employees’ union is investigating to find out who wrote the letter and sent it to Malacañang.
News5 is still awaiting Santiago’s response to the allegations.
Meanwhile, in Davao City last Saturday, Duterte issued a warning to government officials involved in corruption.
“For those guys using the money of the government for going in and out of the country, seminar-seminar, wasting the money of the people, I will ask them to resign,” he said. “When I said walang korapsyon, wala talaga. Pahiyain kita. Huhubaran talaga kita (When I said there would be no corruption, I meant it. I will shame you. I will really strip you) … So when I say you resign, go out silently para less bloody.”