President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Wednesday said that he was ‘”sad” to let go of some government officials he appointed because of alleged corruption or misconduct, especially those who supported his presidential campaign.
Tourism chief Wanda Teo this week resigned after her brother Ben Tulfo and his television production company was linked to an allegedly anomalous P60 million advertising fund placed by the Department on Tourism on government-owned PTV 4.
“You know, if you’d notice, karamihan kong nawala sa akin (most of the ones I’ve lost) are the very first person who…but I’m very sad that they are the very first to go, early on as Cabinet member…” Duterte said Wednesday during the presentation of the New Generation Currency (NGC) banknotes and coins in Malacañang.
Duterte said what made him sad was he believed that the people he appointed actually supported his crusade to bring about genuine change in the country, including the fight against corruption within the government.
“But just the same…there’s no way of telling. Yung maglapit sa’yo ng ganun-ganun(That someone approaches you) and you thought you might ever fall into the trap of believing na (that) you are with the crowd for change,” he added.
The President said that while he appreciated how some government officials would take foreign trips to benefit the country, he did not approve of junkets.
“You know, if you go to other places to attend important meetings that may affect the country, I would appreciate it. If it’s really…work, task,” Duterte said.
“Pero kung (But if it’s), climate change dito sa (here in) Brussels, then climate change sa (in) Tokyo, climate change dito sa (here in) Indonesia, climate change sa (in) Africa…you’ve spent millions for that and I do not see any improvement…,” Duterte said, not elaborating if he was referring to a certain government official.
Duterte has repeatedly mentioned that he would not think twice to sack government officials involved in even a “whiff of corruption” and has even fired several officials already.
As he lamented about letting go of some government officials, Duterte mentioned the surname “Romulo” referring to Alberto Romulo, the father of newly appointed Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat who replaced Wanda Tulfo-Teo.
“Itong si (This guy) Romulo, by the way, the father of Bernadette–people might start to ask questions–he was one of those there with Sonny (Department of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III) urging me to run and I said I could not because wala akong pera (I didn’t have money),” Duterte said.
The elder Romulo served as senator during the administrations of former Presidents Corazon Aquino and Fidel Ramos and held other positions under the administrations of former Presidents Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Benigno Aquino III.
Romulo-Puyat replaced Teo after the latter resigned when the Commission on Audit questioned the PHP60-million payment by the DOT for ad placements on a television show hosted by her brothers Ben and Erwin Tulfo on PTV 4, a state-run TV network.
Prior to being appointed as DOT chief, Romulo-Puyat was Undersecretary for the Department of Agriculture since July 2017. (PNA)