MANILA – The questionable firetruck deal that prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to fire Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno will proceed after all.
In statement Thursday, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the firetruck deal signed under the past administration was a "perfected contract," adding that "there is no temporary restraining order that prevents its implementation.”
A former lawmaker earlier questioned the deal before the Supreme Court. This week, he asked the High Court to immediately act on his plea.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier fired Sueno for going to Austria to check on the firetrucks that the previous government had bought from Rosenbauer International Aktiengesellschaft despite questions about its legality.
Duterte was irked after Sueno admitted that he did not read the Department of Interior and Local Government’s (DILG) legal opinion on the deal, consummated during the previous administration.
The legal opinion cautioned the DILG against paying for the firetrucks due to a pending Supreme Court petition against its purchase.
In a statement released after his firing, Sueno argued that he proceeded to Austria to check on the firetrucks since “there was no temporary restraining order, any injunctive relief or even a status quo ante order issued by the court suspending or holding the same in abeyance.”
There was no way that he could have stopped the deal as “it was a perfected contract entered into by the previous administration.”
Sueno added that the Rosenbauer firetrucks were much cheaper compared to locally-made firetrucks, as these are under a 23-year soft loan agreement with minimal interest.
An Inquirer report on Wednesday also quoted Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III as saying that 14 units of the controversial firetrucks were expected to arrive at the Batangas City port.