MANILA — The Department of the Interior and Local Government on Friday apologized and denied any political motive in erroneously asking Manila Mayor Isko Moreno to explain the Philippine capital's track record against narcotics in 2018—when he was not yet its chief executive.
The DILG in a show cause order had asked Moreno, who only became Manila mayor in 2019, to explain why he and other local officials should not be held administratively liable for the previous Estrada administration's alleged failure to crush illegal drugs.
The agency withdrew the show cause order against Moreno hours after learning that it was "inadvertently" released, said Interior Undersecretary Jonahan Malaya.
He said DILG Undersecretary Ricojudge Echiverri, who issued the memo, acknowledged that "at that time when the audit was done, it was Mayor Erap Estrada who was the mayor."
(In his withdrawal order, he said at that time, when the audit was done, it was Mayor Erap Estrada who was the mayor.)
"Hindi na po kailangan sagutin ni Mayor Isko Moreno ito dahil inamin na po na ito po ay honest mistake on the part of Usec. Echiverri at ng kaniyang staff," Malaya said in a televised public briefing.
(Mayor Isko Moreno need not answer this because it was admitted to be an honest mistake on the part of Usec Echiverri and his staff.)
"Since mistake po ito, wala po tayo kailangan dito i-ascribe as any political motivation. And I can assure the public and I can assure Manila Mayor Isko Moreno na wala po itong hint o tint of political motivation," added the official on Moreno, who is being perceived as a potential contender against administration bets in the 2022 elections.
(Since this was an honest mistake, we no longer need to ascribe any political motivation. And I can assure the public and I can assure Manila Mayor Isko Moreno that there is no hint or tint of political motivation.)
The DILG is "fair, unbiased, and transparent," Malaya said.
"Since the office of Usec. Echiverri already admitted the mistake, so in behalf po of Usec Echiverri, we would like to extend our apologies to Mayor Isko Moreno for the erroneous show cause order," he added.
Moreno, who transferred to political alliance Aksyon Demokratiko on Thursday, has spurred rumors that he would soon declare his intention to run for president in the 2022 elections. The party has yet to make a formal announcement.
The 46-year-old Moreno tied in second place with 2 other potential candidates for president in a pre-election survey that Pulse Asia released in July. President Rodrigo Duterte's daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, topped the poll.
Moreno on Friday said the DILG "can do what they want" over its show cause order.
"I'm busy attending to the COVID-19 [crisis]," he told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo. "They can file charges if they want to. Who will hinder them? I still continue to believe that there is democracy in this country."
Video courtesy of PTV