By Ellson Quismorio
President Rodrigo Duterte was within reason to sack a Cabinet member who was untruthful to him, pro-administration congressmen said on Saturday.
Oriental Mindoro 1st district Rep. Doy Leachon and Surigao del Sur 2nd district Rep. Johnny Pimentel stressed that it is the chief executive’s prerogative to end the tenure of a Cabinet official anytime he wished, even over a simple lie as with the case in point.
“It’s the exclusive prerogative of the President. As secretary, he or she is definitely acting only as alter-ego of the President. If one does not anymore have the trust and confidence of the appointing authority, there’s no way except to go,” said Leachon, chairman of the House Committee on Justice.
On Friday, Duterte was quoted as saying in a speech in Papua New Guinea that he has fired a “Cabinet member.” He did not identify the official.
“Two months early, I fired a Cabinet member during Cabinet meeting for lying. May tinatanong ako sa kanya, ‘Did you consult your legal office?’ Sabi niya, ‘No.’ Si Sonny naman, tinulak niya yung cellphone [niya], nakalagay doon, ‘This guy is lying,'” narrated Duterte.
“So nag-init ang ulo ko because I should trust him. At saka maski hindi ko kababata, nobody would hoist a lie like that,” he said.
Pimentel said that every president has his or her own style of running the affairs of the government.
“Let us also be reminded that all Cabinet members serve at the pleasure of the President so therefore he has the prerogative whether to retain or fire a Cabinet member. Since the Cabinet member has lost the trust and confidence of the President, he has every right to fire him,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Quezon City 2nd district Rep. Winston Castelo hailed Duterte for his no-nonsense attitude, which was also reflected in his campaign against corruption.
“[There’s] no let up in his campaign against corruption. True to his words. That is a strong message to the bureaucracy that mere suspicion on corruption will be dealt with accordingly,” said the Metro Manila Development Committee chairman.
Leachon agreed with his House colleague’s assessment. “The President has just remained consistent with his leadership brand — if we remember, more than a year ago, he purged a Cabinet official also for the reason of lying,” he said.