Aquino adviser's penalty ‘not downgraded’

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Sunday, February 5, 2012


MALACAÑANG denied Sunday that it downgraded the penalty imposed on Presidential Political Adviser Ronald Llamas, who was caught buying pirated video discs.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said there was a thorough review on the case of Llamas and the recommendation of the investigating team was admonition and not suspension.

"There was no truth that it (penalty) was downgraded from suspension to admonition," she said.

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"The Office of the Executive Secretary reviewed the incident and they said that in light of the fact that Secretary Llamas' behavior was inappropriate and improper, there was no offense committed and his apology was the determination of the proper sanction," she added.

Valte released Saturday the decision of Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., who led a team that investigated Llamas, stating that the political adviser was "formally admonished" for his act.

Llamas was caught by a newspaper editor buying a stack of DVDs reportedly worth P2,000 at Circle C mall on Congressional Avenue in Quezon City.

Catholic bishops and other groups called on President Benigno Aquino III to sack Llamas for setting bad example to the public and to administration's campaign against piracy of copyrighted materials.

Llamas apologized to Aquino and offered to resign but the President rejected it.

The Chief Executive said he still trusts Llamas despite what happened.

Ochoa considered the apology of Llamas in arriving at his decision.

"It is not an act expected of a public officer. However, taking into account your expression of 'deep regret' and your tender of an apology, you are hereby formally admonished and given a firm reminder that should in the future observe a higher degree of circumspection and discretion even with regard to your private, non-official conduct," Ochoa's memorandum stated.

Malacañang also advised Llamas to "act at all times with a degree of prudence and propriety," noting that stiffer sanctions will be imposed on him if he commits another offensive act in the future.

Llamas earlier said he fully accepts the admonition.

Valte reminded all government officials to "observe a higher degree of circumspection and discretion" noting that they are prone to public scrutiny. (Jill Beltran/Sunnex)

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