MANILA - Malacañang on Wednesday said there is no looming firing at the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), after two of its officials traded corruption allegations that have caught President Rodrigo Duterte’s attention.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. confirmed this as he revealed the President’s decision to defer the identification of the government official who was supposed to be fired by the Chief Executive.
“The official whose termination I was tasked to announce is not from the PCSO,” Roque said in a news briefing.
The spokesman said the President “holds in high esteem” PCSO general manager Alexander Balutan and Sandra Cam, who was recently appointed as a member of the board of directors at the state charity arm.
Cam earlier accused PCSO officials of organizing a lavish Christmas party at a five-star hotel in Mandaluyong City.
She said she will push for an audit of the party and file charges against the officials in line with this issue.
Cam also accused PCSO officials of benefiting from Small Town Lottery (STL) operations, which she said is being used as a front for the illegal numbers game.
Roque, meanwhile, said Duterte decided to defer the announcement of the firing of the unnamed male official as he was still studying the legislative charter of the agency the presidential appointee heads.
“I will concede this much: There was a legal written document being prepared but even that is being held in abeyance,” Roque said.
“Unless the document has been signed, even that can be changed.”
Roque also refused to reveal what the official did to earn the ire of the President.
He, however, stressed that the President usually fires an appointee due to “loss of trust and confidence.”
The President has fired some of his appointees over allegations of corruption, incompetence, conflict of interest, or junkets.
Among prominent officials who were previously axed were Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno, Dangerous Drugs Board chief Dionisio Santiago, and Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor Terry Ridon. Even the cousin of Duterte’s partner Honeylet Avanceña, PCUP Commissioner Melissa Avanceña Aradanas, was not spared.
But while some lauded Duterte’s move, his critics accused him of having a double standard when he still trusted former Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon even while he was tagged in the smuggling of P6.4 billion worth of shabu in the Philippines. Faeldon was recently appointed by the President to the Office of Civil Defense.