Duterte fires DOTr Asec Mark Tolentino

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Duterte fires DOTr Asec Mark Tolentino
Facebook image shows Transportation Assistant Secretary Mark Tolentino posing with President Duterte following his appointment in September 2017.

For discussing deal with Duterte’s sis

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte yesterday dismissed a transportation assistant secretary for allegedly discussing a project with Duterte’s sister.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Transportation Assistant Secretary for railways Mark Tolentino had violated Duterte’s policy against having dealings with members of the President’s family.

“We are announcing that the President has fired Assistant Secretary Mark Tolentino of the Department of Transportation (DOTr). Asec. Tolentino’s fault is he spoke with a relative of the President,” Roque said in a press briefing.

“The President has terminated the services of Assistant Secretary Mark Tolentino for having dealings with a presidential relative, a sister. And the reminder of the President is no one in the government should entertain any relative of the President in connection with any matter that has to do with the government,” he added.

Roque could not provide details on the project allegedly being pushed by Tolentino and the identity of the presidential sister he spoke with. Roque, however, said that Tolentino used the first family to justify the Mindanao Rail Project.

“I do not know the project... It seems that Asec. Tolentino used the first family in justifying Mindanao Rail... The immediate reason for the termination is he had dealings with the presidential sister,” Roque said..

“The message is that the President is serious. Do not even talk to them about any matter concerning the government, you will get sacked if you do,” he added.

Roque said another official facing dismissal would resign today but declined to elaborate.

DOTr backs Duterte’s decision

The DOTr yesterday said it backs Duterte’s decision to terminate the services of Tolentino.

In a statement, the DOTr said it welcomes and supports the President’s decision.

“The DOTr, under the leadership of Secretary Arthur Tugade, does not and will not tolerate such acts by its officials or employees,” it said.

The DOTr added it would not tolerate namedropping or seeking the assistance of Duterte, his family or any other influential individuals either for government projects or personal gain.

What happened to Tolentino, according to the agency, should be a warning to all government officials and employees.

Judiciary warned vs fixer

Roque also warned the judiciary against a fixer who is allegedly using the first family to influence the outcome of cases.

He said the fixer is the husband of the former daughter-in-law of the President but did not name names.

“We are also warning the public, including judges and justices. A husband of the ex-wife of a son of our President is using the name of a grandchild of the President to fix cases. To the justices and judges, do not entertain this fixer. He is not a relative of the President,” Roque said.

“It is sad that the grandchild is being used. We cannot do anything about that. But this person has no authority to use the name of the President and the name of the grandchild of the President,” he added.

Of the two sons of Duterte, only one – former Davao City vice mayor Paolo Duterte – is married. Paolo has three children with his first wife Lovelie Sumera, who is now married to RJ Sumera.

Roque urged justices and judges to report the activities of the fixer to Malacañang, stressing that the President does not tolerate such actions.

Asked whether Duterte finds fault in  his former daughter-in-law for allowing her partner to engage in case-fixing, Roque said: “I do not know but what is important is the justices were given notice. Do not go near this person because he does not have a mandate from the President.”

Puyat’s anti-corruption efforts hailed

While the President is angry with officials accused of corruption, he is happy with Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat’s efforts to cleanse the agency of corruption.

Roque said Malacañang is supportive of Puyat’s call for tourism undersecretaries and assistant secretaries to resign to allow her to implement her programs.

Asked to react to Puyat’s pronouncements on the supposed corruption under the former leadership of the tourism department, Roque replied that the former was appointed with the expressed mandate to do good and fight corruption and she is doing just that.

“The President is very pleased,” Roque said.– With Louella Desiderio, Ghio Ong

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