Marcos can’t be named to DILG

MANILA -- President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday, April 4, said the he could not appoint former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos as the next secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
He said Marcos still had a pending electoral protest against Vice President Leni Robredo and was not expected to abandon it.
“I don’t think so. He would abandon his appeal eh. Mabitiwan niya when you are appointed to a position, mawawala,” Duterte said in an ambush interview with reporters in Fort Bonifacio.
Duterte said that he was still looking for his next DILG chief after he fired Secretary Ismael Sueno from the post over corruption allegations on Monday night.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said that Sueno’s dismissal was effective upon Duterte’s announcement. An officer-in-charge will soon be appointed.
"President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has dismissed Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary, Mr. Ismail Sueno, citing loss of trust and confidence," presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said on Tuesday.
He said Sueno's dismissal was announced at the end of the 14th Cabinet meeting.
Abella said Duterte questioned Sueno about the acquisition of Austrian fire trucks, which was approved in the previous administration.
"There was no accusation, there were just questioning," he said.
Duterte has repeatedly credited the former senator and the Marcos family for its support during the presidential campaign in Northern Luzon.
An opposition lawmaker on Tuesday said the firing of Ismael Sueno as Interior secretary opened the possibility of former Sen. Marcos, a friend of President Duterte, being appointed to the Cabinet.
“Sec. Sueno’s firing will pave the way for the appointment of the former dictator’s son and namesake to the DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government) post," Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin told GMA News Online.
“The Marcoses never had this so good under Duterte,” he added. — GMA News

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PH investment mission explores access to US halal market

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A forum hosted by The US Halal Chamber of Commerce for the delegation from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) and the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), at the Islamic Society of the Washington Area (ISWA) on March 27, 2017, focused on how the Philippines may be able to expand access and business opportunities in the US halal market.
Habib Ghanim, CEO of the US Halal Chamber of Commerce and President of the ISWA Halal Certification Department, led a group of Islamic halal and trade experts in briefing the delegation on the business opportunities, as well as challenges, in the US halal market.
In order to explore the possible synergies among the various parties, it was proposed that a Memorandum of Understanding be signed among PEZA, ARMM and the US Halal Chamber of Commerce in order to formalize cooperation and assistance.
“I believe that this will go a long way towards ensuring the empowerment of ecozones of Mindanao,” said PEZA Director General Charito Plaza.
ARMM-Regional Economic Zone Authority (ARMM-REZA) Executive Director Aleem Siddiqui Guiapal, who co-led the delegation with Director General Plaza, also noted four important areas that should be addressed moving forward. “We have to adopt a whole-of-government approach in order to reach a consensus on certification requirements that avoids confusing, contradictory and costly requirements; protect the integrity of Halal certification in order to avoid loss of confidence by consumers; ensure that claims regarding health and safety are based on science and not on shariah alone; and address the relative lack of information on Halal markets”
The delegation considered the proposed cooperative effort to be timely because the global halal market is worth about $ 2.77 trillion a year with the trade in Halal foods at $700 billion a year, accounting for as much as 12% of global trade in agro-food products. ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman earlier this year also officially declared the Polloc Freeport and Ecozone in Parang, Maguindanao as a “halal hub.” “The ARMM government is continually working to open the possibilities to the halal market for the region as well as for the country,” Gov. Hataman had said at the event marking the declaration.
The signing of the MOU may take place at a planned International Halal Ecozones Summit in Davao City, Philippines this coming October.

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Globak Pinay Power rises in Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Filipina Women’s Network (FWN) and the Philippine Embassy capped the successful celebration of National Women’s Month 2017 by launching Disrupt 2.0: Filipina Women Daring to Lead on March 29, 2017 at the Philippine Chancery Annex Building.
Disrupt 2.0: Filipina Women Daring to Lead is the second book in the FWN’s series on leadership and management. Thirty-five (35) global Filipino women leaders contributed their stories and experiences to the book, highlighting the qualities and competencies generally required by any position of leadership.
“This book enriches the literature and dialogue on the leadership principles and practices espoused by Filipino women in diverse fields,” Jose Victor-Chan Gonzaga, the Embassy’s Minister for Economic Affairs, said in his welcome remarks.
“A lot of ‘disruptions’ have been happening in this town – upending, in many cases, the way we think about politics, social relationships, wealth and the economy, and technology, among others. Indeed, we live in very interesting times. New mental maps are required. Fresh perspectives are needed. And alternative approaches are essential. Lucky for the Philippines – and if I may so, lucky also for Filipino men—that Filipino women have never shied away from confronting and sometimes, leading the change,” he remarked.
One of the book’s contributing authors and a keynote speaker of the evening, renowned motivational speaker Sonia Aranza, talked about the Filipino woman’s intrinsic ability to “bloom where she is planted”. In her chapter, “Transformational Leadership Begins Within,” Ms. Aranza has written, “Individuals who are transformers dare to defy the ‘Pwede na’ mentality. They refuse to accept the notion of simply getting by. They engage in transformation and transformation requires disruption.”
In her own keynote, Maribeth Raffinan, the first Filipino woman to become a US federal judge, stressed, “Daring to lead involves failure. Daring to lead involves resilience. Daring to lead involves grit.”
FWN CEO and Founder, Marily Mondejar presented the organization’s five priority program areas, namely: branding, social justice, coalition building, leadership development, and cultural awareness. She also invited the participants to attend the 14th Filipina Leadership Global Summit, which will be held on October 26 to 29, 2017 in Toronto, Canada.
A reading of select chapters in Disrupt 2.0 and the first book in the series, Disrupt: Proud, Loud, Leading without A Doubt, followed the keynote speeches.
The Disrupt series may be purchased on Amazon.

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PH, WB groups explore ecozone strategies

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The visiting delegation from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) and the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) participated in a Roundtable Discussion on special economic zones at the International Finance Corporation in Washington, D.C. last March 28. The roundtable was part of an investment mission that is aimed at creating awareness among various sectors in the US capital about PEZA and the ARMM, in line with the Philippine government’s investment priorities, including in infrastructure, manufacturing resurgence and the development of Mindanao.
The Delegation was led by PEZA Director General Charito B. Plaza, and composed of ARMM-Regional Economic Zone Authority (ARMM-REZA) Executive Director Aleem Siddiqui Guiapal, ARMM Agrarian Reform Secretary Amihilda J. Sangcopan, ARMM Treasurer Kanggo Umal, PEZA Deputy Director General Tereso O. Panga, Francoise Ferdinand Plaza, and Danilo Mangaya.
In a roundtable discussion chaired by Peter Kusek, Senior Investment Policy Officer at the World Bank Group Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice, the officials briefed investment specialists and experts on the various programs and policies of PEZA and ARMM-REZA in attracting and retaining investments, including targeted investment promotion strategies; approaches to investment promotion and policy; diversification of zones ownership and economic activities; fiscal and non-fiscal incentives; investor aftercare programs; business one-stop shop action centers; and investor linkages initiatives.
There was consensus among the international financial experts present that the Philippines had an impressive track record in investment promotion and the operation of special economic zones, and they encouraged the delegation to share Philippine best practices more broadly. They mentioned that the Philippine regulations on the one-stop shop is reference material for many World Bank practitioners.
During the discussion with the roundtable participants, the delegation and the technical experts exchanged views on the future opportunities and challenges for countries that have embraced the concept of special economic zones. Director General Plaza emphasized that while PEZA continues to expand existing zones and aims to build an economic zone in every province and city of the Philippines, they are also looking towards the future by going into niche areas such as eco-tourism facilities, halal hubs, logistics hubs, and defense industrial complexes.
The roundtable participants also discussed strategic issues such as how to deal with zones that are nearing full occupancy and how to ensure that they continue to have a catalytic effect on the economy. On the issue of climate change and sustainable development, the participants looked into the concept of eco-industrial parks, which has exploded in number in the last ten years; as well as Climate Innovation Centers. Other experts provided advice on best practices with respect to investment policy and regulations, as well as cutting edge investment promotion concepts.
Director General Plaza and Executive Director Guiapal expressed satisfaction with the substance and depth of the roundtable discussions.
“We did not only convey the economic and investment advantages for those who decide to locate in our economic zones, but more importantly, we had a robust and in-depth discussion with the World Bank experts on critical issues for special economic zones at this time,” Ms. Plaza said.

 

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U.S. gov't inaugurates health, education facilities in Leyte

MANILA — US and Philippine officials inaugurated newly constructed health facilities and classrooms in Leyte that are part of the US government initiative to help Typhoon Yolanda survivors build back better. The US Embassy in the Philippines’ United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Office of Health Chief Karen Klimowski led the inauguration of the Dagami Rural Health Unit and Tuberculosis Directly Observed Treatment, Short-Course (TB-DOTS) Facility, the Carigara Hospital Ward and TB-DOTS Facility, and six classrooms in Patoc Elementary School in the municipalities of Dagami and Carigara, Leyte. The structures are designed to withstand typhoons with wind speeds of up to 360kph.

“USAID is pleased to work with Leyte Province towards improving access to health care and building healthy and stable communities,” Klimowski said. She emphasized the U.S. government’s dedication to help alleviate public health challenges in the Philippines, particularly tuberculosis (TB), during the turnover of the health facilities: “The inauguration of your TB-DOTS facility is just in time for the observance of World TB Day. The United States is a committed partner of the Philippines in the fight against tuberculosis.” She also applauded the local government’s initiative to engage senior citizens in TB information campaigns that educate the community, identify undiagnosed TB cases, and build awareness that TB is indeed a curable disease.

USAID’s restoration of access to health and education in Leyte is part of the U.S. government’s approximately P7.2 billion assistance to help Typhoon Yolanda survivors recover from the catastrophe. To date, USAID has constructed 310 classrooms, 12 health facilities, 30 agri-fishery support facilities, and 1,029 sari-sari stores. USAID is also restoring livelihood activities by providing equipment and training to 3,215 farmers, 6,920 fisherfolk, and 1,417 micro-, small- and medium-sized entrepreneurs.

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Palit Bise rally held in Hayward

Palit Bise rally held in Hayward

Supporters of PresidentRodrigo Duterte held their own Palit Bise rally to coincide with the gathering at the Luneta calling for the removal of Vice-President Leni Robredo fromo ffice.

Held at the Hayward, the rally was the San Francisco Bay Area Duterte loyalists’ way not just of reiterating their support for the President but also their condemnation of Robredo’s video statements before the United Nation that dealt on the government’s war on drugs.

Digong Duterte SupportersNorthern California coordinator Kelly Dayag announced that their own rally in response with the Duterte Alliance of Volunteers and Artists Organization(DAVAO) movement in the Philippines members of which are supportive of thePresident for a better Philippines.

“This is to demand that theVice President to step down from her office or be impeached because she is not helping the President and instead she is being belligerent. We don’t want that for we want our country to progress and that the real Vice President be in place,” Dayag continued. “This was undertaken even if the President was against impeachment of the Robredo to avoid disunity, when in fact there already is disunity, we pushed through with this to show the world and to impress upon the ‘fake’ Vice President Robredo to shape up or ship out because s long as she is there, there is always a threat of destabilization.”

BrotherhoodFor Duterte (BFD) and Lex Talionis Fraternitas - North America (Lex NA) leaderReynaldo ‘Bong’ Aralar joined the assembly to eliminate the bad publicity or perception being put out by no less than the Vice President.

“We honor the call of the president not to pursue the impeachment of the Vice President but we also want to pursue this by sending a message to Leni Robredo that we will not keep still and basically let her malign the image of the Philippines and the Filipinos here and abroad. She should not be saying what she said in the video because it is not doing any good for her nor for the country. It is doing the country a lot of harm. We want to make sure that the press reflects the true situation in the Philippines as the eyes of the world is on us,” Aralarpointed out.

Aralar made known his preference for Senator Alan Peter Cayetano in case Robredo is impeached for he thinks Cayetano is the best choice Duterte can make to succeed Robredo.

Ask whether they were supportive on the call by Manila rally participants for a revolutionary government, Aralar voiced out that he believes in the rule of law.

“I don’t believe in the declaration of a revolutionary government. But I espouse the creation of a federal form of government,” Aralar stressed.

For his part, Dayag is supportive of the clamor for revolutionary government if only for destabilization to stop and fro the rule of law to be in place “so we can have this in place to repel lawlessness just like during the time of Cory Aquino and if we have no other choice.”

As far as the media treatment of Duterte is concerned, Dayag considers sensationalism is employed to sell news.

“Media needs a battle cry that is enticing to the people. I believe this all about sensationalism(although) I cannot question the whole mainstream media. I believe that this has always been the problem,” Dayag contends.

Aralar for his part, answered yes and no when asked whether the media an enemy of Duterte administration.

“There are those in media that promotes and seeks to have a balanced reporting as there are always two sides, two opposing views of a story. And we have to respect that. Like it or not, media controls how people behave and how people perceives the Philippines. They can sell or not sell thePhilippines. Fake news really drives what is going on in a particular country or government. Media needs to be reporting only the truth. If media can do that, then we will not also be critical of media. It has been a problem for awhile now dating back to the Marcos era,” Aralar insists.

Captions:

BrotherhoodFor Duterte (BFD) and Lex Talionis Fraternitas - North America (Lex NA) leaderReynaldo ‘Bong’ Aralar (left) and Digong Duterte Supporters North America coordinator Kelly Dayag (right), together with rally participants, took turns in lambasting Vice President Leni Robredo in a Palit Bise rally in Hayward California.

Scores of Palit Bise rally participants reiterates their support for President Duterte and called for removal of Vice President Leni Robredo either through resignation, impeachment or defeat in the Presidential Electoral Tribunal case.

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Earthquake hits Batangas, felt in parts of Metro Manila

MANILA -- No, it was not yet the supposedly overdue Big One.

A magnitude 5.5 earthquake struck Tingloy, Batangas at 8:58 p.m. on Tuesday, April 4, with aftershocks felt until the early morning hours of Wednesday, April 5.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology(Phivolcs) reported that the quake was tectonic in origin and had a depth of focus of three kilometers.
The quake was felt at Intensity V in Malvar and Calataganin Batangas.
Intensity IV was felt in Makati City; Obando,Bulacan; Imus and Indang in Cavite; Calamba, Laguna; Sta. Ana, Manila;Valenzuela City and Tagaytay City.
Intensity III was recorded in Mandaluyong City;Quezon City; Gen. Trias, and Dasmariñas in Cavite ; Pasay City and Lucena City while Intensity II was felt in Talisay, Batangas; Abra De Ilog and OccidentalMindoro.
Instrumental Intensities were also reported in TagaytayCity with Intensity IV and Mauban town and Lucena City in Quezon with IntensityIII.
There were no immediate report of damage or injuries, but, Phivolcs warned of possible aftershocks. There were no immediate report of damage or injuries.
In a phone interview with Jessica Soho on SONA, Phivolcs executive director Renato Solidum said Intensity VI was felt in Batangas City.
On Phivolcs' Earthquake Intensity Scale, an Intensity VI tremor is classified as "Very Strong":
Very Strong - Many people are frightened; many run outdoors. Some people lose their balance. Motorists feel like [they're]driving [with] flat tires. Heavy objects or furniture move or may be shifted.Small church bells may ring. Wall plaster may crack. Very old or poorly built houses and man-made structures are slightly damaged though well-built structures are not affected. Limited rockfalls and rolling boulders occur in hilly to mountainous areas and escarpments. Trees are noticeably shaken.
Solidum assured the public that there was no imminent tsunami threat in Batangas.
"Walapong tsunami na maidudulot 'yunglindol kanina," Solidum said.
"Ang protocol po namin kung sa tingin namin walang tsunami, hindi na namin binabanggit 'yun, pero para sigurado na naiintindihan ng ating mga kababayan nawala po no? Kung meron naman po talagang posibilidad na magka-tsunami, babanggitin naman po natin," headded.
Phivolcs also warned the public, especially those in Batangas, that they would feel some aftershocks.
"Normal po'yan, sumusunod po talaga 'yan," Solidum said.
"Ang paulit-ulit kong sinasabi, we must be prepared for a stronger one," headded.
Philvolcs has long warned the public to prepare for a major earthquake to hit Metro Manila, citing the regular occurence of big temblors every few decades. — Betimg Dolor, GMA News

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How an off-duty police officer stopped a bus robbery

Cardo Dalisay of ABS-CBN hit series "Ang Probinsyano" would have been proud.
The call of duty went beyond work hours for PO2 Joselito Lantano, who ended a bus robbery by shooting the armed suspect before he could fire at him.
Lantano and around 20 others were riding a Diamond Star bus traversing EDSA en route to Malanday early Tuesday when a fellow passenger declared a robbery.
Passengers interviewed by ABS-CBN News said they heard a gunshot from the back of the bus just before the vehicle reached EDSA Kamuning.
The man who fired the gun declared a hold-up and shouted for the bus driver to keep the bus moving as he walked to the front.
Sitting in front was Lantano, the off-duty cop, who woke up after hearing the gunshot and readied his own firearm.
"I knew the sound of a gunshot and I sensed a hold-up was happening," he said.

FIRST STRIKE
Lantano said he decided to shoot first before letting the assailant know he was a police officer.
"I looked to the back and saw him readying to fire at me, so I shot back, almost at the same time," he said in Filipino.

Three shots later and the gunman was dead.
Still, Lantano had to check if the bus robber had accomplices on board.
"Walang tatayo sa likod kundi puputukan ko kayo!" he shouted.
"I asked the passengers to raise their hands and place them on top of the headrests. It was the only way to identify the robber's companions," he said.
He told a student who was also on the bus to take video of the aftermath.
The bus was soon stopped by a police mobile parked under the flyover near the intersection of EDSA and Quezon Avenue.
Each bus passenger was let off one by one and frisked by authorities.
Some of the bus passengers ratted out two men who turned out to have been carrying a bladed weapon and a caliber .38 gun. The two, who were identified as James Medrano and Mark Lee Mahinay, denied they were involved in the hold-up.

PROMOTION IN ORDER?
Lantano's presence of mind and swift action impressed Quezon City Police District director Chief Supt. Guillermo Eleazar, who also arrived at the crime scene.
He said he is planning to file a recommendation for Lantano's promotion.
"This shows how alert our police are and should be. Even if he was off-duty and going home, he was ready to face danger," Eleazar said.
Lantano, a policeman for 20 years, has worked under the Police Security and Protection Group (PSPG) based in Crame since 2009.
Before that, he trained and was assigned with the PNP Special Action Force.
Lantano was recognized by the PSPG in 2013 for arresting suspects of an "akyat bahay" robbery group he caught in the act and chased in Batasan Hills, Quezon City.
For Lantano, his only thoughts were on making sure he survived the encounter for the sake of his 2 children living with him in Bulacan. Both are still in high school.
"I'm just glad that I did my job," he said.

Anjo Bagaoisan, ABS-CBN News

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Russia prepares for Rody visit in May

MANILA, Philippines - Russia is now laying the groundwork for President Duterte’s visit to Moscow next month by identifying possible areas of cooperation, Russian Ambassador Igor Anatolyevich Khovaev said yesterday.

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The envoy, however, said Russia would not send military troops to the Philippines nor is it seeking a military alliance with the country.

“We are now preparing for the historic visit of President Duterte in May,” Khovaev said in a message yesterday in a meeting of the Philippine Russian Business Assembly.

Duterte said he would be visiting Russia on May 25.

Khovaev said Russia is ready to help the Philippines in many areas, including security, through the provision of arms, as well as joint military exercises.

“The two countries have to deal with specific threats such as terrorism, extremism, piracy, illegal drug trafficking so it is natural to combine efforts. No nation is able to cope with these challenges on its own. That is why we are ready to share our experience, arms, weapons and other necessary equipment. Also, training and joint military exercises, but we don’t seek military alliance and we will not send our troops,” Khovaev said in an interview after the meeting.
Aside from security, he said that Russia is ready to cooperate with the Philippines in different fields such as trade and investments, political, education, culture, tourism, science and technology, as well as agriculture.

“We are looking forward to cooperation in different fields. It will be a milestone in the history of our relations and it should be successful. It is in the long-term interest of the two countries and it will greatly contribute to the regional stability and sustainable development,” he said.

Duterte has said he wants Russia to be an ally.

During his visit, the President intends to have a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom he already met in November 2016, during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Peru.

Duterte said Putin was his “idol.”

By Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star)

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Infighting rocks DILG

MANILA, Philippines - Infighting continues among the President’s men and women.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Ismael Sueno is at loggerheads with three of his undersecretaries who accuse him of corruption and other abuses.

Sueno told The STAR he asked President Duterte in a meeting last month to remove the three undersecretaries – John Castriciones for operations, Jesus Hinlo for public safety and Emilie Padilla for legislative liaison and special concerns – who also wanted him out because of various allegations against him.

Sueno said he handed the President a letter detailing his sentiments and cited “irreconcilable differences” with his subordinates.

Sueno, Castriciones, Hinlo and Padilla are all members of the Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte-National Executive Coordinating Council Committee (MRRD-NECC) that campaigned for the President in the May 2016 elections.

The department has five undersecretaries. The two others are Austere Panadero for local government and Catalino Cuy for peace and order.

Sueno said the three undersecretaries were the ones moving for his ouster and pushing for Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) director general Guiling Mamondiong as his replacement.

Sueno’s move was in reaction to a four-page unsigned letter, a copy of which was obtained by The STAR, containing the allegations against Sueno and addressed to Duterte.

The STAR tried but failed to contact the three undersecretaries.

Labeled as “confidential memorandum” to the President, the letter read: “We urgently pray to you Mr. President to please act with dispatch if you so decide to remove Mike Sueno from his post, otherwise he will create more harm against the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) and cause injustice to the Filipino people by abusing his power and position.”

Sueno denied all the accusations against him in the letter and issued clarifications.

“There is a new hotel in Marbel, South Cotabato which is suspiciously owned by Sec. Sueno, although he alleges that this property belongs to his brother. His farm in South Cotabato which used to have only one nipa hut prior to his being a secretary, now has several expensive structures being built,” the letter read.

Sueno said the property really belongs to his brother.

The letter said Sueno recently purchased several trucks for his personal rice business and his grandson police official, identified only as “Senior Supt. Sintin” and “who has a position during the time of President Noynoy,” is known to be the DILG chief’s collector in many illegal gambling activities.

“Sueno has pursued the payment of the Rossenbauer firetrucks despite the fact there is a pending case in the Supreme Court. Worse, he with his family, personally went to Austria and made side trips to other countries to pursue a second delivery of 76 firetrucks which caused more or less P20 million compared to a firetruck which can be purchased for more or less P7 million only,” the letter read.

Sueno clarified the issue on firetrucks was a government-to-government transaction, which was made during the previous administration. “It was a 76 percent grant and 24 percent loan. It’s an ODA (overseas development assistance),” he said.

The letter also said Sueno tried to influence the Task Force Agila, the investigating team of the narco-mayors in the listing of the President, to clear a mayor from Misamis Occidental.

Sueno said TF Agila has its own set of officials and he could have not interfered in its operations.

The letter noted Sueno authorized a mayor to join the Washington trip regarding illegal drugs when in fact the local official was included in the President’s list of known narco-politicians under investigation by Task Force Agila of the DILG.

“The delegation to Washington DC was prepared by (the) Local Government Academy and I was not even part of the trip,” Sueno said.

The letter said there are more complaints and charges against Sueno that need to be investigated.

“Nonetheless, he is inefficient and incapable of the position he occupies. We hope and pray that if there is a new secretary to be appointed, then he would cause the investigation of the afore stated incidents,” it said.

Sueno said he felt betrayed since he personally followed up the appointment of the three undersecretaries in Malacañang.

But he said the three were not his personal choices. “Pinapasok niya ’yung tatlo (He had the three enter the department) to prepare the post for him,” Sueno said, referring to Mamondiong.

“Last Monday, the three undersecretaries sought an audience with me but I said I will not meet them anymore,” he added.

“We all serve under the pleasure of the President and if the President decides to keep the three undersecretaries, I will not give them any power. Mahirap na,” Sueno further said.

The letter said Sueno is using all his powers as secretary of the DILG to force the three undersecretaries to resign because of his “mistaken belief” that they were the ones behind his ouster.

The letter said Sueno initiated actions to stop the three undersecretaries in the performance of their limited functions as well as investigations to pin them down on trumped-up charges.

The letter said this was meant to destroy their credibility and to preempt his looming ouster.

They were initially hesitant to report Sueno’s abuses in the department but the secretary had gone too far, the officials said.

The letter noted the three officials tried to understand Sueno but as months passed, they saw that the DILG secretary had become more interested in pursuing his own interests as manifested by his policies and activities.

According to the undersecretaries, Sueno spelled out his policy to them: “Your loyalty should be to me (Sueno) and not to the President.”

Based on the letter, Sueno also maintained and strengthened the powers of Panadero and assistant secretary Esther Aldana, head executive assistant to Jo Leysa, all well-known supporters and loyalists of former DILG chief Manuel Roxas II, by giving them powers to control all the projects and programs of the department with huge funding.

However, Panadero is a career officer and has been in the DILG for over two decades now.

The letter added Sueno revised the delegation of authority so much so all signing authorities are controlled by the three “yellow protégés” of Roxas. The head executive assistant, who is not even a presidential appointee, has more powers than any of the three MRRD undersecretaries, the letter claimed.

The appointment of Aldana as assistant secretary for finance and administration was also assailed.

The letter added Sueno refused to investigate past transactions of Roxas that were allegedly tainted with corruption.

It said Sueno’s wife was likewise the one in charge of many contracts and other transactions.

By Cecille Suerte Felipe (The Philippine Star)

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