MANILA – It's not the opposition, but no less than President Rodrigo Duterte’s appointees who are “destabilizing” the government, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said Monday.
“PNP (Philippine National Police) may problema. BID (Bureau of Immigration and Deportation) may problema. NFA (National Food Authority) may problema. NIA (National Irrigation Administration) may problema. TPB (Tourism Promotions Board) may problema. Sec. Yasay may problema,” said Pangilinan, president of the Liberal Party.
“Mga appointees mismo ng gobyerno ang gumagawa ng paninira sa administrasyon,” he added.
Pangilinan was referring to the controversies involving Duterte’s appointees in various government departments and agencies.
The biggest Cabinet member of the Duterte administration to figure in a controversy is erstwhile foreign affairs secretary, Perfecto Yasay Jr., whose appointment was rejected by by the Commission on Appointments because of questions regarding his citizenship.
The PNP, meanwhile, has been criticized for its bloody war on drugs and alleged irregularities in its anti-drug operations.
The Bureau of Immigration, on the other hand, was recently under the spotlight after two of its deputy commissioners, who are Duterte’s fraternity brothers, figured in an extortion scandal.
Duterte also fired National Irrigation Administration (NIA) chief Peter Laviña after the latter was accused of asking money from NIA contractors, an allegation that the president’s staunch supporter denied. The Palace later said Laviña resigned, and was not sacked.
National Food Authority administrator Jason Aquino, meanwhile, is currently under investigation amid allegations of corruption.
The latest Duterte appointee to figure in a controversy is actor Cesar Montano, the chief operating officer of the Tourism Promotions Board.
Employees of the TBP, an attached agency of the Department of Tourism, have filed a complaint against Montano for entering into alleged questionable contracts and nepotism.
Duterte’s aides have been claiming that the president’s critics are brewing "destabilization plots," citing the criticisms on the government’s war on drugs and allegations he operated a death squad when he was mayor of Davao City. Critics have called out Duterte and his aides for, at times, linking dissent to destabilization.
Duterte’s defense secretary, Delfin Lorenzana, however, said that as far as the military is concerned, there is no destabilization plot against the government.
Lorenzana said airing criticisms is part of democracy and does not necessarily lead to destabilization.