By Genalyn Kabiling
Another batch of government officials has been fired for alleged involvement in irregularities, President Duterte announced Tuesday.
The President said he was “very sad” about dismissing these officials since they were among those who encouraged him to run for president in the 2016 elections.
Duterte made the remarks after Malacañang announced the removal of Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr. as chairman of the National Food Authority (NFA) Council.
Evasco earlier accepted the President’s decision but denied involvement in corruption, saying he could never “break the trust” given by the President. Evasco, a former mayor of Maribojoc, Bohol, was Duterte’s campaign manager in the last elections.
“I’m very sad to inform you that as of last week I fired another set of high officials. Alam mo, kasi ‘yung iba to my chagrin almost… These were the guys who went back and forth to Davao to convince me to run,” the President said during the oath-taking rites of new government officials in Malacañang, without identify the sacked officials.
Duterte shared his “lamentation” about some appointees who end up getting involved in irregularity.
“I don’t want to nurture something that I would be suspicious of anybody in front of me. Ayaw ko sana ‘yung mawalaan ako ng bilib sa kaibigan o kakilala [I don’t want to lose confidence in a friend or acquaintance] I hate it,” he said. “I know they meant well but along the way, may papasok talaga na kalokohan [there will be misbehavior],” he added.
Duterte said if these officials were honest with him from the start, he could have abandoned his presidential bid or did not appoint them to government posts.
“But you know as supporters, early on, even during my mayorship days, they were already around and yet to f*** around eh nakakahiya [it’s embarrassing],” he said. “Alam ninyo ang ayaw kong mahiya. I’ll be frank with you,” he said.
It was then the President asked the Radio Television Malacañang (RTVM) to cut the live feed on the Palace ceremony, which was closed to the coverage of private media organizations.
Earlier, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said Evasco would no longer be part of the NFA Council as part of the President’s reorganization of the food agency.
The President has returned the NFA as a line agency of the Department of Agriculture, fours years after it was placed under the supervision of the Office of the President (OP).
Asked if Evasco is still the Cabinet Secretary, Roque has deferred to the Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to comment on the matter.
“I supposed he will cease because NFA no longer under OP. But EO (Executive Order) on this has to be issued,” Medialdea said.
Evasco, meantime, issued a long statement accepting the President’s decision and thanking him for the chance to serve the NFA council.
In the statement read by Roque, Evasco said there were some quarters out to discredit his name but he took pride of his clean government record. He said he has never been investigated or charged with corruption and other irregularity in the past two decades in public service.
“In my more than 20 years in Government Public Service including 3 terms as Mayor of the municipality of Maribojoc in Bohol, I have never been charged with Malfeasance, Misfeasance or Nonfeasance in the conduct of my work more than 20 years of Government Public Service,” he said.
“I have never been investigated by any office on any misdealings, let alone I have never been charged at the Ombudsman / Sandiganbayan for any corrupt practices,” he added.
Evasco also said he could never break the trust given to him by the President.
“I can never break the good relationship I have with the President, a relationship we have built through the years with the people we work and serve with,” he said.
“I can never put my family in a position of compromise after all the support, sacrifice and love they have given to me as I continue to serve this government and the people,” he added.