Fired or resigned? PIA chief Harold Clavite says he did not quit

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 02 2019 10:36 AM | Updated as of Sep 02 2019 12:51 PM

MANILA- (2ND UPDATE) The head of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) has "resigned," nearly 3 months since he was linked to corruption.

Harold Clavite said Monday that while he did not resign from his post, President Rodrigo Duterte reportedly accepted a resignation letter under his name.

"I did not resign. I received a letter from the Executive Secretary on Friday stating that the President had accepted my resignation effective immediately," he told ABS-CBN News in a message Monday.

Clavite, in a Facebook post Friday, announced his separation from the PIA, saying he looks forward to a "less stressful private life."

 

MISUNDERSTANDING?

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on Monday meanwhile said Clavite, in a July 17 letter, "manifested his intention to submit his irrevocable resignation to the President citing personal reasons."

The said letter was submitted to the President "and thereafter accepted," Medialdea said in a message.

But Clavite clarified that he never submitted a resignation letter to the President up until his departure from the PIA last week.

The letter that Medialdea was referring to only contains his intention to resign and was not addressed to the President, Clavite explained.

"I said I 'intend to submit' because we both agreed in our meeting that he reviews first my letter. He specifically asked me not to resign. I merely reiterated in the letter our conversation and I said it will be sent to the President," he said.

The former PIA chief revealed that he was initially asked to resign after the July 15 meeting with Medialdea on the basis of a Commission on Audit disallowance.

"I argued and informed Mr. Medialdea that I was preparing an appeal on the disallowance and that I was confident of my response as we were able to establish what caused it," Clavite said.

While he welcomes the President's decision for him to leave the PIA, Clavite noted that the letter he received last Friday was "too harsh not only for me but the organization which was deprived of proper transition and handover. "

"If they used that statement to make such decision, then I’ll accept that. I just think it’s not fair that after hearing my side and asking me to write all the details, they would do such without even talking to me," he said. 

Asked on Clavite's claim that he did not submit a resignation letter, Medialdea said the former PIA chief already acknowledged the acceptance of his resignation in statements.

DIFFERENCES WITH ANDANAR

It can be recalled that in June, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said Clavite was under investigation due to allegations of corruption. 

The PIA is under the Presidential Communications Operations Office headed by Andanar.

Clavite earlier said the allegations against him were the handiwork of some of his subordinates engaged in irregularities that involve millions in public funds.

During a July 15 meeting with Medialdea, the former PIA chief said he informed the executive secretary of his "differences" with Andanar, which he claims started in 2016. 

Clavite claimed that Andanar labeled him as a "defiant subordinate."

"I defied instructions that were improper. I fought directives that were out of place," Clavite said.

He said he would file cases against Andanar and other PCOO officials, then submit a resignation letter to President Duterte.

Andanar meanwhile has yet to respond to ABS-CBN News' request for comment on Clavite's statement.

NO WRONGDOING

While he insists that he did nothing wrong, Clavite said he would abide by Medialdea's order for him to leave the PIA "despite the questionable decision-making process behind it."

"What happened was a triumph for those who initiated demolition efforts against me— so successful that they have influenced the highest office in government," Clavite said.

"I believe PCOO was at the core of the demolition efforts, executed by my own Deputy and very few disgruntled personnel," he said.

Following his exit from the PIA, Clavite said he would return to the United States.

"I will be back to my family and take care of my own now," he said.

Communications Undersecretary Marvin Gatpayat confirmed on Monday that the PCOO has wrapped up its investigation into corruption allegations against Clavite but did not disclose the findings.