President Rodrigo Duterte sent shock waves to all presidential appointees across the country on Sunday when he fired all of them by declaring their posts vacant.
Citing continuing corruption in government “especially in the regulatory agencies,” Duterte told the appointees: “Consider your positions vacant as of this hour.”
He spoke at about 2 a.m. on Sunday during a two-hour press conference in Davao City that ended past 3 a.m.
The President singled out the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and the Land Transportation Office (LTO), as he noted that corruption was giving “headaches to fellow human beings.” He stressed that his order included “all” presidential appointees. “It will number in the thousands” all over the country’s bureaucracy. But he clarified that career officials and employees were not included in the order.
While President Duterte stressed that “all” presidential appointees were included in his order, Presidential Communications Office Secretary Martin Andanar later on Sunday told the state-run dzRB radio that only those appointed during the previous administrations would be affected by the major shakeup in the government.
Andanar said the delivery of basic public services would not be adversely affected by the President’s move.
“I think our bureaucracy is strong enough. It will function even without the heads of offices because we have deputies and career officers,” Andanar said.
He said he would ask Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo regarding the implementation of the President’s order.
In his news briefing early Sunday, Duterte expressed disgust over information he had been getting that corruption persists in some state agencies despite his repeated warning against unscrupulous government officials. He claimed that unbridled irregularities were still happening in “regulatory agencies,” such as the LTFRB.
“Until now, in my provincial visits, I still hear corruption being committed,” the President said.
The President ordered the current head of the LTFRB, lawyer Martin Delgra, to report to him in Malacañang.
“I don’t know yet”
In Cebu, Ahmed Cuizon, the regional director of LTFRB in Central Visayas, said he still has no idea what will happen to appointees like him.
“Honestly, I don’t know yet. I will wait for an official instruction from our central office,” said Cuizon when reached for comment by phone yesterday.
Cuizon was appointed in 2010 by former president Benigno Aquino III for the LTFRB-7 director post.
On October 28, 2014, Cuizon asked for a transfer to Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) as the assistant general manager.
But he was sent back to the LTFRB-7 this year as director after he applied and was appointed by Aquino.
So far, no new appointments for LTFRB regional directors nationwide have happened, according to Cuizon.
Cuizon said that since he assumed his post five months ago, he has not issued a single new franchise for the public utility vehicles since these are covered by the moratorium on issuance of franchises for buses, taxis, jeepneys and Garage Terminal (GT) express.
“Our office has likewise intensified our campaign against colorum and other violations like out-of-line operations,” Cuizon added.
Among colorum vans that were seized by LTFRB-7 last week was owned by a policeman from Lapu-Lapu City.
In accordance with President Duterte’s orders, LTFRB-7 has also shortened the procedures in terms office transactions.
“Some of these that used to require say, 5 or 6 steps have now been cut down to something like 3 steps only,” Cuizon added.
For transactions like franchise renewal, the agency now strictly requires the operators themselves to personally file their applications.
“If they are unable to do so, only their immediate family members or legal counsel may represent them,” Cuizon added.
LTFRB-7 has also put a stop on the sale and transfer of all franchises, regardless of whatever kind of public utility vehicle since August 12.
“This is being done to avoid the commercialization of franchises,” Cuizon added.
Employees are also monitored on their performance to ensure that they comply with office rules and regulations on punctuality, integrity and efficiency.
“Public funds should not be spent for the salaries of erring employees. Those who fail our standards are dealt with accordingly,” Cuizon added.
LTFRB-7 has also increased resource interventions like coaching and mentoring meetings with their staff to reiterate the anti-corruption drive of the President.
No effect on them
LTFRB-7 Assistant Regional Director Reynaldo Elnar, on the other hand, said he would not be affected by the President’s order since he was appointed to his position by the Civil Service Commission (CSC).
Land Transportation Office (LTO-7) officer-in-charge Alita Pulga is also a career officer like Elnar and will not be covered by the President’s order.
Pulga, a CSC appointee who rose from the ranks, assumed her post only last Aug. 1 after former LTO-7 director Arnel Tancinco vacated the post.
Pulga said she is bent on eradicating fixers and has instituted measures that would ensure that fixers could no longer do business at LTO branches in the region.
Pulga said they have placed security guards outside their compound to make sure that no fixers can enter the LTO-7 premises.
Pulga appealed to the public to directly transact their vehicle registration in their office and asked for cooperation from the insurance companies, drug testing and medical practitioners.
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