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Palace defers naming latest exec on chopping block

Malacañang has deferred naming the next government official President Rodrigo Duterte wants dismissed.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, during his first regular press briefing for 2018, yesterday said 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.”
“Although I was directed to announce as early as December 30, the instruction was to announce in our next press briefing, which is today (January 3). But of course, the beginning of the day, I was asked to defer with the said announcement,” he stressed.
Roque also noted that an official document to terminate the unnamed official is being prepared.
“I will concede this much that I know that there was a legal written document already being prepared. But I guess even that is held in abeyance,” he said.
According to the Palace official, no reason was cited for the postponement but when he inquired with the Presidential Management Staff (PMS), “what they said was that 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 said.
He clarified that the male official is neither from Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) nor from the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

Last month, the Ombudsman slapped four ERC commissioners with one-year suspension three months after the President 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.
On the case of the PCSO, he stressed the Chief Executive 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,” Roque said.
Cam recently questioned the P6 million spent in a PCSO Christmas party held last December 19.
He added Mr. 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 stressed.
Roque 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.”
Since he assumed office in mid-2016, the Chief Executive has dismissed several government officials including his own appointee like Ismael Sueno as Department of Interior and Local Government secretary due to the alleged anomalous truck deal.
He also sacked Peter Laviña as head of the National Irrigation Administration due to accusation that Lavina asked money from contractors and Presidential Commission on Urban Poor officials, including its chairman Terry Ridon over foreign junkets.
Relatedly, Malacañang also yesterday issued a new set of guidelines that would govern the travels abroad of government officials and personnel in the executive department.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, in a memorandum, said the new guidelines were issued to ensure compliance with the pronouncement of Mr. Duterte against “extravagant and lavish travels” abroad by officials belonging to the executive department.
He stressed foreign trips of government officials and personnel would be allowed only if the purpose of the travel was “strictly” within the mandate of the requesting government official or personnel.
The expenses of the said travel should not also be excessive, and the trip should bring substantial benefit to the country, Medialdea said.
Failure to comply with the order may result in the filing of administrative actions for misconduct, insubordination, and other related offenses under the Civil Service Commission Revised Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service and/or relevant laws and regulations against the traveling official or personnel, as well as the official who approved or failed to submit the list, he stressed.

Ted Tuvera with PNA

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