Manila: Following a string of controversies concerning officials exploiting travel perks, President Rodrigo Duterte banned all officials under the executive department from going on foreign trips.
“I just signed an executive order banning travel. You let me know first [where you need to go] and I will read [the proposal]; I need to know what you are going [abroad] for,” Duterte said in a speech in Tagum, Davao del Norte.
The President said the travel ban is part of his campaign for good governance.
“It’s part of the campaign against corruption. Not only done with malice, but [against] those who just want to spend [the] money of [the] government for nothing,” he said.
“They go out every convocation, convention, seminar, and whatever reasons to travel. And for those who have travelled more than 12 times, you have to go,” he added.
A number of officials had reportedly been axed due to excessive and unjustified travels. Among the most recent dissmisals were Terry Ridon of the Presidential Commission on the Urban Poor (PCUP), Dionisio Santiago Chairman of the Dangerous Drugs Board and Marcial Quirico Amaro II of the Maritime Regulatory Administration (MARINA).
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea had issued a memorandum to department secretaries and heads of agencies regarding the directives applying to foreign travels of all government officials and personnel in the executive department.
The President, in a separate speech delivered recently, also warned that he would sack the chairman of a government-owned and controlled corporation as well as some 70 policemen including three generals.
“It would appear that there’s a second chairman who might be replaced because of graft,” Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said as he referred to Amaro II.
Duterte had announced the intention to fire 40 to 70 policemen and three generals. “In the next few days, this is really a purging regime,” the President had said.
“So that his legal basis to remove officials from their posts, not only presidential appointees but also local officials because the President has supervision over local government units. It means he has to make sure that they are doing their jobs. If they are not, that’s a basis for firing them,” Roque explained.
Duterte has a reputation for not sparing even his close friends and political supporters.
He had fired Peter Tiu Lavina, his campaign spokesman during his run for the presidency, from his post as administrator of the National Irrigation Authority, as well as Ismael Sueno from the powerful Department of Interior and Local Government.
Likewise, Duterte is firm in his stand to reject any role in a transitory government as the administration pushes for federalism.
“The President has said that he wishes to finish his term, he wants to cut short his term; he does not want to lengthen his term,” he told reporters in a press conference.
“If his party-mates would insist on a transitory provision that would require the President to serve longer, the President said he is not interested,” he said, adding “they may have to ask another person in the government for that”.