Duterte fires DOTr asec for approaching sister on unnamed project

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 21 May) – Transportation assistant secretary Mark Tolentino has been fired for communicating with President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s sister about a project, Presidential spokesperson Harry S. Roque announced on Monday.

The announcement came after Duterte said in Cebu on Saturday that he would fire a government official, along with five others who are reportedly involved in corruption, for allegedly seeking an “advice” from his sister on a project.

“Again, 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 government should entertain any relative of the President in connection with any matter that has to do with government,” Roque told a press briefing in Malacañan Palace.

The spokesperson said he has no knowledge as to which among the President’s sisters the former assistant secretary had allegedly approached. He added that Tolentino used the First Family to justify the implementation of the Mindanao Railway System.

Aside from this, Roque alleged there were issues at the Department of Transportation (DOTr) involving the former assistant secretary.

He said Duterte is determined to end corruption in government, and warned all government officials not to approach his relatives and friends about a project because this would be the basis for their dismissal.

“Itong pagsibak po kay Asec. Mark Tolentino magsilbing halimbawa po kapag sinabi ng Presidente, ni huwag ninyong kausapin ang kamag-anak at kaibigan, huwag na huwag ninyo pong kakausapin na (The sacking of Asec. Mark Tolentino should serve as an example that when the President said, do not talk to his relatives and friends, never ever talk to them),” Roque said.

It can be recalled that former Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo resigned amid the controversial P60-million commercials placed on her brother’s blocktime program, Kilos Pronto, aired over state-run People’s Television (PTV) Network in 2017. Teo initially refused to resign and maintained she had nothing to do with the transactions between PTV and her brother’s company.

Last week, Duterte advised Justice assistant secretary Moslemen T. Macarambon Sr. and Public Works assistant secretary Tingagun A. Umpa to resign from their posts due to their alleged involvement in corruption based on the investigation of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC).

According to Roque, Macarambon, appointed on January 9, 2017, reportedly intervened on behalf of suspected smugglers of gold and other precious jewelry at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Appointed as assistant secretary for Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Operations and Special Mindanao Projects on January 5, 2018, Umpa was accused of committing grave abuse of power and corruption when he allegedly asked for “certain percentages” from contactors.

Roque warned judges and justices to not entertain the husband of Lovelie Sangkola Sumera, who was accused of using the President’s and his grandchild’s name in fixing cases. Lovelie was the ex-wife of resigned Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte.

“So ang pakiusap po sa mga justices at mga judges, isumbong ninyo po sa Malacañang iyan. Huwag ninyo pong pagbigyan dahil wala pong otoridad iyan, nakakahiya man, hind naman tunay na kamag-anak ng Presidente, hindi po iyan kinukunsinte ng ating Presidente (Our appeal to the justices and judges, report it immediately to Malacañang. Do not give in because he has no authority, shameful as it seems, he is not a relative of the President. The President is not tolerating such),” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)