By Daniel Llanto

A perjury complaint was filed with the Ombudsman by the youth group Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPK), whose members are protesting against the Anti-Terrorism Act and Assistant Sec. Melissa Avanceña Aradanas of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD).

Aradanas is first cousin to Duterte’s common-law wife, Honeylet Avanceña, thus implying nepotism.  The DHSUD is the former Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), the central housing authority in the country.

“We have filed a twin criminal and administrative complaint for perjury. The first seeks to determine whether the respondent should be criminally charged for committing perjury in her Career Executive Service (CES) Board application. The second seeks to determine administrative liability for committing perjury,” the youth group said.  

SPK alleges that Aradanas’ career executive service application “contained falsified statements concerning her past dismissal from and lack of managerial experience, which the CES written examination explicitly asks from applicants.”

The Board this month announced it is suspending the CES Eligibility Process indefinitely “in view of the national government’s restrictions on mass gatherings and the implementation of standard health protocols to mitigate and eliminate the threat of COVID-19.”

Just three months before Duterte appointed Aradanas to the DHSUD in 2018, he supposedly fired Aradanas from her previous post at the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP) but appointed her to the more lucrative position.

Aradanas and other PCUP officials were sacked for their unnecessary trips abroad and their failure to meet as a collegial body.

Early this year, she was named assistant secretary of the newly formed housing agency DHSUD.

The agency, which was formed in February last year through Republic Act 11201, is the main planning and policymaking entity for all housing, human settlement, and urban development concerns.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque at the time defended Aradanas’ re-appointment, saying “no one can question the inherent power of the President to appoint anyone.”

Along with her alleged failure to cite her dismissal from a previous post, the youth group in their complaints said Aradanas’s managerial experience fell “one year short of the three year requirement of managerial experience for CES eligibility, including taking written examinations.”

“The respondent was appointed as HUDCC Deputy Secretary General only in March 2018 and continuing until today as DHSUD Assistant Secretary….as such and to date, her managerial experience only totals to two years and four months,” the complaint further reads.

Aradanas was named assistant secretary of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development last January 21, according to a list of appointments that the Palace released on January 28.

The group also said that Aradanas did not exercise managerial functions as PCUP commissioner, citing the lack of defined functions duties of commissioners in the executive order that created the PCUP.

“Generally, PCUP commissioners conduct oversight and review activities on PCUP and urban poor sector activities but they do not exercise managerial functions, such as leading divisions, units or teams in the agency,” SPK added.