Labor undersecretary, Commission chair Aiza Seguerra join ranks of officials sacked by Duterte


By Daniel Llanto | FilAm Star Correspondent

No mention was made of any misdeed when two Duterte-appointed government officials resigned one after the other recently but for blabbing that he quit on principle, former Labor Undersecretary Dominador Say was exposed as corrupt by President Duterte while former National Youth Commission (NYC) Aiza Seguerra is under fire for wasting funds.

Duterte warned Say to shut up or he would make public a sworn statement detailing Say’s alleged corrupt activities in office. The President issued the warning in a speech at the 24th Annual Convention of the National Federation of Motorcycle Clubs of the Philippines in Legazpi City.

“You better shut up or tell the truth immediately. I have the affidavit on my desk and I could give it to the media. Then I would ask to endorse it to the ombudsman,” he said.

Say resigned a week ago as labor undersecretary for policy, employment and regional operations citing differences with the administration’s stand on contractualization or the practice of hiring employees for a contract period of six months or less. Duterte is leaving the matter to Congress despite his campaign promise to end the practice.

Duterte dismissed Say’s excuse, saying his firing of Say was on the table even before then Justice Sec. Vitaliano Aguirre II resigned. Say was said to have long been in the list of officials the President wanted to kick out.

Duterte insisted that the case with Say should also serve as a warning to other corrupt officials in government.

That could have been the cue for Seguerra, who had changed her first name to Ice, to make her exit at NYC saying she only gave herself that much time to be in government service and that she would focus on her singing.

Seguerra sang at the campaign rallies of Duterte in the 2016 elections, like Presidential Communications Assistant Sec. Mocha Uson danced with her Mocha girls.

The Commission on Audit (COA) found that the NYC under Seguerra spent “unnecessary” expenses for meals and snacks as well as the hiring of technical consultants without supporting documents.

In its annual audit report, COA said that for 2017, the NYC incurred a total of PHP 296,968.30 expenses for meals and snacks served during its 126 meetings and related activities held during the year. The meals and snacks expenses fall under the commission’s Representation Expenses for 2017 totaling PHP 3.792 million from PHP 2.674 million in 2016.

The state audit body said a review of the petty cash vouchers for the meals and snacks expenses revealed that 112 of the payments made, with a total cost of PHP 268,068 “were considered not official.”

“The PCVs (petty cash vouchers) for payment of meals and snacks served during the meeting and related activities were without the duly signed Notice of Meeting or Office Orders issued for that purposes,” the report read.

COA also said the NYC hired the services of highly technical consultants without the necessary supporting documents required under COA Circular 2012-001 or the “revised guidelines and documentary requirements for common government transactions particularly on the procurement consultancy services.”

In a statement, newly designated NYC officer-in-charge Ronald Gian Cardema said he will investigate the adverse audit findings. “Rest assured that I will be investigating all of these and will remove all those involved in the issue,” Cardema said.

Cardema replaced Ice Seguerra on April 6 following the latter’s resignation. Cardema joined the NYC in September 2017.

“I’m trying here to rid (government) of corrupt officials. That’s my warning,” Duterte said of Say’s dismissal. The President has sacked several department heads as well as Cabinet officials involved in graft and corruption while in office.

The President kicked out Philippine Maritime Industry Authority chief Marcial Amaro III, Dangerous Drugs Board chief Dionisio Santiago and Interior Sec. Ismael Sueno. Duterte also kicked out former information technology chief Rodolfo Salalima and former National Irrigation Authority chief Peter Laviña.