SANTIAGO FIRED OVER JUNKETS ABROAD, FAVORS FROM DRUG LORDS – PALACE
President Rodrigo Duterte dismissed former Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) chief Dionisio Santiago not just for contradicting his statements but due to complaints of alleged junkets abroad and acceptance of favors from drug lords, Malacañang said on Monday.
“Santiago was let go not only because of his statements on the mega rehab center, he was let go because of complaints,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Palace briefing.
Citing the complaint, Roque said Santiago allegedly went on a trip to Vienna in Austria, and the United States together with his “mistress,” friends and favorite DDB employees.
“He was also being let go because of complaints that General Santiago was using taxpayers’ money for junkets abroad. In addition to bringing family members, Santiago brought six of his closest personnel, including a ‘girl Friday’,” Roque noted.
The Palace official said Santiago was also accused of receiving a house from suspected and slain drug lord Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog.
INQUIRER.net has sought Santiago’s comment but has yet to respond as of posting time. /kga
Palace: Santiago was let go because of complaint of junkets, receiving a house from Parojinog
Former Dangerous Drugs Board chairperson Dionisio Santiago was removed from his post because of a complaint about junkets and receiving favors from major drug players, Malacañang said on Monday.
“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,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said during a briefing in Malacañang.
“He was also let go because of complaints, that General Santiago was using taxpayers’ money for junkets abroad. There were also complaints that General Santiago may have accepted consideration from major drug players,” he added.
Based on a letter dated October 25 received by the Office of the President, the DDB Employees Union complained about Santiago’s trips to Vienna, Austria with his family and “unqualified” favorite DDB employees. His delegation included his “girl Friday and coffee server” identified as Edith Julie B. Mendoza.
The union also said that Santiago went to the United States this time with an alleged mistress and selected DDB employees.
“This is an extravagant use of government resources and abuse of authority,” the letter said.
DDB-EU added that Santiago received favors from major drug players such as a “big mansion” given to him by the Parojinog family in Ozamiz City.
“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,” the letter read.
The announcement came after President Rodrigo Duterte said there were officials lined up to be fired because of unauthorized trips abroad.
“It is a very strong message to the bureaucracy: The President will not tolerate junkets, unnecessary travels abroad,” Roque said.
“That shows his [Duterte’s] 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,” he added.
Santiago announced that he was removed from his position on November 7. Duterte later said he was offended by Santiago’s statements against the construction of the mega drug treatment and rehabilitation center in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija.
Santiago was appointed as DDB chair in July, after former head Benjamin Reyes was removed for contradicting the government’s numbers on the drug war.
Santiago ran for senator and received Duterte’s endorsement in the 2016 elections. But he did not win. He was the former Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency director general from 2006 to 2010.
As of posting time, GMA News Online is getting the reaction of Santiago on the matter. — RSJ, GMA News
By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang revealed that former Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) chief Dionisio Santiago was fired from his position due to his alleged junkets abroad and connection to major illegal drug players in the country.
This, according to Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, is aside from the earlier stated reason that Santiago spoke against the mega-drug rehabilitation facility in Nueva Ecija earlier this month.
Roque, who made the revelation during today’s Palace press briefing, said President Duterte gave him the green light to reveal to the public the other reason for sacking Santiago.
Roque, citing a letter from the union of the DDB to Duterte, said Santiago reportedly went to trips to Vienna, Austria and the United States with his family, close DDB employees, and even his mistress in September 2017.
“One of the complaints that reached the President was a trip to Austria, where in addition to bringing family members, General Santiago brought six of his closest [DDB] personnel including a girl Friday,” Roque revealed.
Santiago’s girl Friday, a certain Edith Julie Mendoza, was Santiago’s coffee server, according to the Palace official.
“There was no mention of the date [of his travels]. And there was also a mention of a trip to [the] United States, indicating last month, meaning one month before October, where he, quote, ‘allegedly bringing with him his mistress and selected favorite DDB employees,’” Roque cited the letter.
According to Roque, this only shows that Duterte will not tolerate junkets and unnecessary or unauthorized travels abroad.
“That shows his resolve against graft and corruption. As far as he’s 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 said.
“He has done so many times in the past and General Santiago is only the latest of them,” he added.
Santiago was said to have attended an ordinary Narcotic Drug Intersessional meeting in Vienna, Australia, while he went on an official business to the United States where their expenses have been charged against DDB funds.
“For your information, for both meetings, attendance only requires the presence of the DDB Chairman in the official invitation sent by [the] UN (United Nations) Secretariat and nothing more. This is an extravagant use of government resources and abuse of authority,” the letter stated.
Santiago and Parojinog
Aside from his trips abroad, the letter also accused Santiago of accepting favors from major players in the illegal drug trade, particularly slain Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog.
According to the letter addressed to Duterte, Santiago allegedly received a house from the slain mayor during the retired Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief’s stint as the director-general of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
“We believe our chairman, Retired General Santiago, is a liability to your administration. Previously, as aired on TV5 Aksyon sa Tanghali News by Mr. Gary de Leon last August 2017, reportedly said he was a recipient of [a] big Ozamiz mansion given by the Parojinog Family during his stint as Director of PDEA,” the letter said.
The letter furthered that Santiago had unexplained wealth, fleet of cars and expensive property. It, however, did not say whether these were obtained through Santiago’s alleged ties to drug lords.
“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,” the letter stated.
Parojinog, along with 15 others, were killed in a police raid inside their house in July 2017.
Santiago and Reyes
The DDB Employees Union also accused Santiago of designating his predecessor Benjamin Reyes as acting chairman of the DDB while Santiago was in his overseas trips.
“Mr. President, what is more intriguing and appalling, which the DDB Union oppose, is his designation of Mr. Benjamin P. Reyes as acting chairman of the Dangerous Drugs Board while he is on a junket spree,” the letter read.
The letter also stated that Reyes was apparently still receiving his salaries, allowance from the DDB.
“Mr. Reyes, despite your order of dismissal, has been continuously performing his job and receiving his salaries and allowances at the DDB without a valid appointment to the present,” the letter read.
Santiago was appointed by Duterte when the President sacked Reyes in July when Reyes contradicted Duterte’s data on the number of Filipinos addicted to drugs. Duterte said there were 4 million drug addicts while Reyes said there were only 1.8 million.
Santiago, the second DDB chief to leave the post under the Duterte administration, resigned on November 6 by orders of Duterte after Santiago told the media that the construction of the mega-drug rehabilitation facility was a mistake.
Duterte said Santiago could have just asked for a meeting with him instead of telling his sentiments about the said facility to the media.