MANILA – While recognizing that she serves at the pleasure of the President, a cabinet official said Friday that the Office of the Cabinet Secretary might be "under attack" by some who have access to President Rodrigo Duterte.
In a statement, fired Cabinet Undersecretary Maia Chiara Halmen Reina Valdez alleged that the President may have received false information about her, saying this also maligned her “tatay (father) in the government," Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr.
She also denied rumors that she had worked with Sen. Francis Pangilinan, president of the opposition Liberal Party and former Presidential Assistant on Food Security and Agricultural Modernization- links that seemed to give political color to her removal from the administration.
“I wish to clarify that I never had the chance to work for Sen. Pangilinan, although I used to work for the dissolved Presidential Assistance for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization prior to my stint as undersecretary for the OCS,” Valdez said.
She said she was not a holdover from the previous administration and that she took her oath of office in front of Duterte on Aug. 5.
Describing her former superior, Valdez said Evasco, a former priest and rebel, "is perhaps the only high ranking official inside the walls of Malacañang who has seen and experienced the plight of the poor first hand…and has [taken care of the poor] quietly and with integrity."
“On behalf of CabSec, we at the OCS cannot be bullied. We are not victims here. We will continue to fight with the President this war against corruption," she said.
President Rodrigo Duterte fired Valdez on Wednesday for allegedly defying National Food Authority (NFA) Administrator Jason Aquino’s decision to put rice importation on hold, specifically from private firms.
In a speech in Nueva Ecija on Wednesday, Duterte said he was “appalled” by the Undersecretary who reviewed the NFA Administrator's decision regarding importation.
The President vowed to fire even more officials soon, saying he would remove appointees at the "first whiff" of wrongdoing.