President Rodrigo Duterte dismissed former Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) chair Dionisio Santiago from his post due to a complaint regarding junkets abroad and accepting favors from drug lords, Malacañang said on Monday.
This was confirmed by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque during a Malacañang press briefing.
“I would like to confirm that General Santiago was let go by the President not only because of his statements on the mega rehab centers being a mistake,” Roque said.
“He was also being let go because of complaints that General Santiago was using tax payers’ money for junkets abroad. In addition to bringing family members, Santiago brought six of his closest personnel, including a ‘girl Friday,’” Roque added.
According to a letter dated October 25 which was received by the Office of the President, the DDB Employee’s Union (DDB-EU) complained about Santiago’s trips to Vienna, Austria to attend an ordinary meeting on anti-drug enforcement. Included in this delegation was his “girl Friday and coffee server” named as Edith Julie B. Mendoza.
DDB-EU also said that Santiago went to the United States with his “mistress and selective favorite DDB employees,” where their expenses have been charged to the DDB’s fund.
“This is an extravagant use of government resources and an abuse of power,” the letter said.
Apart from these suspicious trips, Roque said there were also complaints that Santiago may have accepted consideration from major drug players. DDB-EU also added that Santiago was a recipient of a “big mansion” given by the slain Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog back when he was still the chairperson of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
“Can he be an effective Chairman of the DDB as he is being reportedly a protector of a drug syndicate? We doubt it Mr. President,” wrote the DDB employees in their letter.
The Union also accused Santiago of delegating former DDB chair Benjamin Reyes as acting chairman while he is on a junket spree.
Reyes was dismissed publicly by the President last May 24, 2017. The employees said, despite Duterte’s order of dismissal, Reyes have been doing his job and receiving his salaries from DDB.
This announcement came after Duterte said he is set to fire government officials next week who have been traveling abroad without necessary travel order released by his office.
“It is a very strong message to the bureaucracy: The President will not tolerate junkets, unnecessary travels abroad,” Roque was quoted as saying in a GMA report.
“That shows his resolve against graft and corruption. As far as he is concerned, you don’t even have to be proven. If you’re tainted in any way by corruption, he will not hesitate to fire individuals. He has done so many times in the past and General Santiago is only the latest of them,” Roque added.