By Argyll Cyrus Geducos and Ellalyn de Vera-Ruiz
President Duterte has sacked three undersecretaries of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) over the weekend, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea confirmed.
Medialdea made the statement after it was reported that Duterte terminated the appointment of DSWD Undersecretary for Promotive Operations and Programs Group Maria Lourdes Turalde-Jarabe, Undersecretary for Protective Operations and Programs Group Mae Ancheta-Templa, and Undersecretary for Disaster Response Management Group Hope Hervilla.
Medialdea, in a text message, said that Malacañang is giving new Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista to bring in his own people to the agency. “We expect the new secretary to bring his own team to provide better services to the public,” he said.
Prior to their appointment, the three undersecretaries were part of three different left-leaning groups. Jarabe was a former secretary general of Gabriela while Hervilla was once a Bayan Muna regional chairman. Templa, on the other hand, was a member of Forum of Women for Action with Rody Duterte.
The Palace official, however, denied that the three officials were sacked because of their ties with the Left. “No naman (Not at all). Formation of a good team,” Medialdea said in a text message.
Earlier, the DSWD said Templa and Jarabe have vacated their posts following orders from Malacanang. But Hervilla, who not named earlier, also submitted her resignation to the President.
All three were appointed DSWD undersecretaries in 2016. They vacated their posts last Nov. 14. “Indeed, we all serve at the pleasure of the President. We assure the public that the delivery of services will continue,” DSWD Assistant Secretary Glenda Relova said.
In a speech before Filipinos in Papua New Guinea last week, Duterte announced that another government official would be facing the ax once he returns to the Philippines. He said that it is in line with his crackdown on corruption in the public sector.
“I fired a Cabinet member during a Cabinet meeting for lying. May tinatanong ako sa kanya (I asked him). ‘Did you consult your legal office?’ Sabi niya (He said), ‘No,'” Duterte said, without naming the official.
“Nag-init ang ulo ko, sabi ko—and since then marami na ako until now and when I go back meron na naman. Talagang tanggalin kita, sorry na lang (I got mad. I said—and since then I fired so many until now and when I go back, there will be another one. I will really fire you. Sorry),” he added.
In a speech in Samar last month, Duterte announced that he has fired Labor Undersecretary Joel Maglunsod, another left-leaning appointee. “Iyong undersecretary ng labor… Joel Maglunsod pinaalis ko (The undersecretary of labor, Joel Maglunsod, I fired him),” Duterte said.
While not elaborating on the recent development, Duterte said that he just gave left-leaning people a chance to serve the country during the early days of his term. However, he said they still want to establish their own government in the long run.
“Pinagbigyan ko sila noong bago ako kasi gusto ko ma… (I just gave the chance when I was still new because I wanted to)… Duterte said, not finishing his statement.
“Yung mga ideology niyo. Pero in the long run, gusto nila pati sila magdala ng gobyerno. (You have your ideology. But in the long run, you still want to have your own government),” he added.
“Makipag-away ka sa akin, makipag-barilan ka tapos ngayon sabihin mo kasama tayo sa gobyerno, itong mga powers na ‘to. Kalokohan ‘yan. (You fight me and then you tell me you’re with me in government. That’s nonsense),” he continued.
Duterte has appointed left-leaning people to his Cabinet in an attempt to show goodwill and sincerity in the then-ongoing peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).
Last year, the Commission on Appointments (CA) rejected the appointments of Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo and Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano.
Former Kabataan party list Rep. Terry Ridon was fired as Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor chair over alleged excessive travels while former Gabriela party list Rep. Liza Maza resigned as National Anti-Poverty Commission chairperson.
Earlier, Duterte expressed regret in appointing said people to government posts, adding that the CPP-NPA-NDF wasted their opportunity to show the people that they are capable of leading.