MANILA - Former Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) chief Dionisio Santiago denied Wednesday that he went on a junket spree and fraternized with suspected drug lords -- allegations which led to his resignation from office.
President Rodrigo Duterte asked Santiago to step down due to complaints that he used public funds for overseas trips with his mistress and favorite employees, and received favors from drug lords, including the Parojinogs of Ozamiz, Malacañang said Monday.
Santiago admitted that he once met Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog when the latter petitioned for the release of a suspected criminal. He said he rejected the request and denied receiving a mansion from the mayor.
"They know that hindi po ako nakukuha doon, 'pagkat ako, what is the law is the law," he told DZMM.
(They know that I cannot be swayed by that because for me, what is the law is the law.) Parojinog and several others were killed in a police operation in July.
Santiago said he has never met the mayor's daughter, Ozamiz Vice Mayor Nova Princess Parojinog, who was arrested in the same operation.
As for his alleged junkets, Santiago admitted that his wife, not his alleged mistress, accompanied him to the US in September when he attended a meeting on combating drugs. He said he used his own money for his wife's expenses.
He added that he brought along several DBB employees to help him seek funding for upgrading their agency's website, not because they were his favorites.
The employees, he said, were selected by a "travel committee."
Santiago also said he went to Vienna, Austria because Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano invited him to attend a roundtable discussion on human rights.
"May authority po ng Malacañang iyan," he added. (That was authorized by Malacañang.)
Santiago's exit from DBB came just days after the President took offense over his remarks against a mega drug rehabilitation facility in Nueva Ecija.
Malacañang admitted Tuesday that the allegations against Santiago may not be "gospel truth" after the complaint letter on his alleged corrupt practices was disowned by the DDB employees union, which supposedly filed it.