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Palace: La Viña’s SSS stint ended due to corruption

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By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

President Duterte decided not to renew the term of office of Social Security System (SSS) Commissioner Jose Gabriel La Viña due to supposed corruption, despite La Vina’s being one of his closest allies during the campaign period two years ago.

SSS Commissioner Jose Gabriel Lavinia discusses (MB FILE PHOTO/FEDERICO CRUZ)

SSS Commissioner Jose Gabriel Lavinia
(MB FILE PHOTO/FEDERICO CRUZ)

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the revelation in a statement Saturday afternoon, reiterating that the President will not tolerate even a whiff of corruption.

“Let this be a reminder to all public officials that the President is serious in curbing corruption and has strong resolve to promote good governance,” Roque said.

According to Roque, Duterte decided not to renew La Viña’s term of office due to his demands and for vilifying four SSS executives who crossed his path. La Viña was serving in a holdover capacity after his term expired on June 30, 2017.

Roque said La Viña demanded a budget of P26 million to fund his “social media” project with him as TV host; and a budget of P1.6 million per month for a media advertising program which was also denied.

La Viña reportedly requested for the accreditation of seven brokers to handle SSS investments.

“The accreditation was denied because these brokers could not meet the requirements,” Roque said.

The Palace official added that La Viña embarked on a vilification campaign against four SSS executives who crossed his path. Two of the executives resigned and one is now a consultant of the Secretary of Finance.

“Despite an ongoing investigation, Mr. La Viña called a press conference and spoke against these four executives,” Roque said.

Aside from this, La Viña had filed before the Ombudsman an administrative complaint against 21 SSS officials over allegedly anomalous media contracts in the last two years. He also said that there seemed to be a “mafia” inside the SSS.

The Palace announced that President Duterte will not be renewing the terms of office of La Viña and SSS Chairman Amado Valdez. Their terms expired last June, 2017 and they were serving in a holdover capacity.

Valdez, a former dean of the University of the East, was appointed by the President last October 2016. La Viña, meanwhile, was the Duterte campaign’s social media head.

Roque earlier cited the possibility that Duterte came to the decision because the President may have felt that the squabble among SSS officials affected work at the state-run pension fund.

“Sa tingin ko kaya iyan pinalitan ng presidente eh nakikita niya na mas magiging efficient ang SSS kung walang hidwaan sa board ng SSS (I think the President replaced them because he sees that SSS will be more efficient if there is no rift in the board),” he told reporters in Kalinga last week.

In a speech in a private event last week, Duterte hinted that he decided not to renew the terms of the two top SSS officials because they were supposedly misusing or abusing taxpayers’ money.

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