Ex-SSS official says Palace friend tipped him off about sacking

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 14 2018 10:33 AM | Updated as of Feb 14 2018 12:31 PM

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Former SSS Commissioner Jose Gabriel La Viña revealed Tuesday a friend tipped him off that he would be out of a job soon after he refused to toe the line by filing cases against other SSS officials.

Speaking to ANC, La Viña said he knew he will be sacked because "a friend" from Malacañang talked to him about the cases he filed against his fellow SSS officials.

"I knew it was coming because someone from the Palace talked to me face to face. His exact words [were]: 'If you don't toe the line, you'll be sorry na lang'. You'll be out of office basically," said La Viña, adding he cannot name the official.

La Viña, who served as social media head during Duterte's campaign for the 2016 polls, earlier filed an administrative complaint against Reginald Candelaria and Ernesto Francisco for allegedly withholding from the state-run pension fund information on stock investment prospects and then buying the stock for themselves.

He also filed a complaint against 21 SSS officials including SSS Executive Vice President Rizaldy Capulong for approving allegedly anomalous media contracts worth P145 million.

He earlier said he had received reports that a "mafia" inside the SSS was controlling procurement contracts in the agency.

On Monday a Palace official said President Duterte is not renewing the appointment of La Viña and SSS Chairman Amado Valdez.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said Duterte may have felt that the squabble among SSS officials affected work at the state-run pension fund, and decided to no longer extend the terms of two of its officials.

Despite his sacking, La Viña said he stands by the complaints he filed. "I have no regrets. I stand by it. I think when these cases are finally heard, I will be vindicated," he said.

DIFFERENCES IN OPINION

Meanwhile, La Viña also admitted that there is a difference in opinion within the SSS board. But he stressed these differences in principles are handled professionally.

"If the reason is 'hidwaan,' that's true. There's difference in opinion, principle and ideologies on the board. But a board is supposed to have diverse opinion. These are all at the professional level," he said.

One of those differences in the board, he said, was the P2 billion investment of SSS in Megawide. He said the squabble happened after the board approved the investment while one of the members was spreading gossip.

"Things heated up when Chairman Valdez suddenly announced that SSS and Megawide would bid for the NAIA and be a rival to the mega-consortium. Some people were rattled there and maybe didn't want competition," he said.

"It came out after the board already approved the deal. There is one board member there, one commissioner that in my opinion was spreading gossip about Megawide," he added.

La Viña said the gossip was about the liquidation issues of Megawide's chairman Edgar Saavedra. The former SSS commissioner said the issue should have been brought up before the deal was approved.

He also denied allegations that he abused public funds during his stint with the agency, which he calls unfair, untrue, and unjust.

"Unfair because I had never been told there was an issue about abuse, no chance to even answer. Untrue because I have not abused public funds. Unjust because people who know me... know I haven't done anything close to that," he said.

He maintained that he did his best to protect public funds when he was a commissioner of the SSS.