DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 5 Jan) – Presidential spokesperson Harry S. Roque said President Rodrigo R. Duterte has fired Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) administrator Marcial Quirico Amaro III for excessive foreign trips as he warned officials to avoid junkets.
Roque announced during a press briefing at the Presidential Guest House in Panacan here Thursday that Duterte’s decision to terminate Amaro came after he received a complaint dated December 22 of Amaro’s trips abroad in 2017.
Roque said the President ordered an investigation and obtained a copy of Amaro’s travels from the Department of Transportation (DOTr), which showed that he made 24 foreign travels – 18 last year and six in 2016. All but one were official travels.
He said his plane tickets were paid for using government funds, except for three sponsored trips, and the one personal trip.
“The point of the President is we have to be selective in the trips that we will undertake and that definitely 24 travels is excessive,” Roque said.
He said the termination of the officials must send a warning to public officials that the President “is serious in his mandate that they should live modest lives, that they should be true to their calling, and that they should avoid unnecessary trips.”
Last month, Duterte terminated all the commissioners of the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP), including its chair Terry Ridon who made seven foreign travels that were already deemed “excessive” by the President.
He said what the President asks of the public officials is for them “to do your job well, serve the people well. Do not lie. Be honest. And do not engage in junkets.”
Roque added a number of officials in the government will be terminated but names have yet to be disclosed.
“I don’t know about foreign trips but I think yesterday I also declared that quite a number of police officials, including colonels, will soon be terminated. But the names have not been provided to me yet,” he said.
Roque said he has not received any documentation from the Presidential Management Staff (PMS) that Amaro used MARINA for some “business purposes” but “I have to admit that I have heard (of) some reports.”
He added that guidelines for foreign trips of government officials strictly limit their engagement to related functions of the government; must not be too costly; and the benefits to the country of the trip must be substantial.
Roque said all government employees have to secure approval for any foreign travel, be it official or personal. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)