MANILA–The summary dismissal of Interior Secretary Ismail Sueno from the Cabinet just shows that “President Rodrigo Duterte is very serious in restoring public trust in government,” a Malacañang official said Tuesday.
In a Palace briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the dismissal of one of the President’s close allies served as a warning that Duterte would not countenance any questionable or legally untenable decisions by any member of the Cabinet.
“But I think, more than the details of the situation, I think we need to take into more serious account the implication of this thing that it was done in a sense publicly in front of all the Cabinet members. And also that the President has allowed a public explanation of the matter,” the Palace official said.
He said that Duterte has kept on repeating that one of the problems of the Philippines is that the Filipinos have lost trust in the government.
“But by addressing it so firmly and so with decisiveness, it just goes to show how deeply invested the President is in nation building,” he said.
“The Secretary (Sueno) had, in fact, been instrumental in convincing the President to run for election, but this did not deter the President from pursuing his drive for a trustworthy government by addressing issues like corruption,” Abella said.
Earlier, the Palace Spokesperson confirmed the dismissal of Sueno and said that the Cabinet official was dismissed by Duterte due to “loss of trust and confidence.”
He said that the dismissal was announced toward the end of the 14th Cabinet Meeting on Monday night.
Abella said that Duterte talked with Sueno at the start of the meeting and asked some questions regarding certain activities.
When pressed on what really led to the dismissal, Abella said that “the President has done due diligence and so he has checked into the matter and apparently he has taken note of several legally untenable situations.”
He also refused to bare the details, saying only that “Duterte has apparently some insight into the situation.”
Sueno is the second major Cabinet official to be dismissed due to allegations of corruption.
Just last month, Peter Tiu Laviña, who served as Duterte’s campaign spokesman, was sacked as head of the National Irrigation Administration.
In the meantime, Abella said there was no replacement yet for Sueno