All appointive government posts declared vacant
(The Philippine Star) - August 22, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – President Duterte yesterday declared all appointive government posts vacant to address corruption in the bureaucracy.

Thousands of officials, including presidential appointees, will be affected by Duterte’s directive, which takes effect today.

“Until now in my provincial visits, I still hear corruption being committed by people, especially in the regulatory agencies,” Duterte said during a press conference in Davao City, which ended at 3:30 a.m.

“If you are there because of presidential appointments, I will declare all your positions vacant,” he said.

Duterte said presidential appointees should consider themselves resigned effective immediately.

The President clarified that the declaration of all appointive government posts vacant does not include Cabinet officials who assumed office on June 30.

Duterte made special mention of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), which he earlier named as among the most corrupt agencies.

He declared all LTO positions, except those occupied by career officials, vacant. LTFRB officials, meanwhile, were ordered to report to Malacañang this week.

Duterte said the delivery of public services would not be disrupted as deputies would assume the posts vacated by their superiors.

When asked what he would do if he finds out that career officials are causing the problems in the agencies, Duterte said, “If a rule is enforced, it must be enforced against all or none at all.”

Duterte noted that the Chief Executive has the power to dismiss officials whom he thinks can no longer perform their tasks.

“I will give you a clean government. Along the way, cost (will be) the employment of some who are really corrupt,” the President said.

“It’s a problem with the system and the structures, maybe the functioning or an aberration in the system or the flow of that work, I really won’t mind. But if you are there to commit corruption day in, day out, please get out,” he added.

Duterte said he would not replace officials whose performance is “at par with the rest of the best of the employed.”

Last week, Duterte threatened to name officials involved in corruption, which he described as “endemic” in the country.

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the new appointees would undergo screening process by the Presidential Management Staff.

“Our bureaucracy is strong. Our bureaucracy can stand even without the heads of agencies,” Andanar said.

Andanar said the President did not violate any law when he declared the positions of all appointive officials vacant.

“They serve at the pleasure of the President. They have to work and put a stop to corruption,” Andanar said.

Chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo defended the President’s move to declare all appointive government posts vacant.

“The President still receives complaints of corruption at the LTO and LTFRB,” Panelo said.

P73-M ‘welcome gift’

A “welcome gift” amounting to P73 million reportedly received by a newly appointed official in one of the agencies tagged as corrupt by President Duterte may have triggered the government shakeup.

A source told The STAR that the official received P73 million in cash upon assumption into office.

The source said it was a tradition in the agency that its head would regularly receive millions of pesos in payola in exchange for the unhampered operations of a syndicate.

“The gift is SOP (standard operating procedure) in the cash-rich agency,” the source said.

“Without hesitation, the official received the money and kept it secret. But the deal leaked out and reached Malacañang,” the source added.

A former government official from Davao City is being considered to replace the erring official.

Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa had admitted that illegal gambling operators offered him millions of pesos when he assumed the PNP post.

Dela Rosa said he turned down the bribe money as this may affect the government’s crackdown on illegal gambling.

LTO chief ready to quit post

LTO chief Edgar Galvante is expected to vacate his office today after President Duterte declared all appointive government posts vacant due to corruption issues.

In an interview, Galvante said he would abide by the President’s order.

Galvante said that despite the programs they have undertaken, which resulted in positive changes in the agency, there were still complaints on corruption at the LTO.

“I think what is needed is swift action. There is no time to dilly dally. I’m his appointee and if I can’t meet the President’s expectations, I will gladly leave,” Galvante said in a phone interview.

The LTFRB said it would comply with the President’s directive.

In a statement, the LTFRB said the Department of Transportation headed by Secretary Arthur Tugade is “uncompromising and unforgiving” in corruption issues.

LTFRB chairman Martin Delgra also announced the resignation of LTFRB Davao region director Benjamin Go.

Delgra said LTFRB administrative officer Edgar Violan also retired from public service after an audit of LTFRB transactions showed questionable franchise issuances.

Delgra, who was among the first appointees of the Duterte administration, had been instructed by the President to rid the agency of corruption. - With Edith Regalado, Perseus Echeminada, Giovanni Nilles, Romina Cabrera

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