Sueno denies power abuse

DEPARTMENT of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Ismael Sueno on Monday denied that he is abusing his power and position as he accused three of his undersecretaries of being behind the black propaganda against him.

Sueno, who serves at the pleasure of President Rodrigo Duterte, also expressed willingness to step down if the Chief Executive tells him to do so.

The DILG chief was reacting to a confidential letter reportedly submitted to the President by the "Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte - National Executive Coordinating Committee," a national volunteer organization which helped Duterte when he ran for the presidency, accusing him of some irregularities.

In the flag-raising ceremony, Sueno said that in his many years in public service, he has never used his position to enrich himself or pursue his personal interests.

He said the hotel in South Cotabato mentioned in the letter belongs to his younger brother who is a long-time businessman, and the trucks are owned by his daughter who is engaged in a trucking and rice business.

He, however, admitted that the farm reported in the confidential letter belongs to him and that because of his flourishing duck business, he is now able to improve the property.

He also said reports accusing him of collecting grease money from illegal gambling rings through a certain Senior Supt. Sintin are preposterous because he had always said no to illegal gambling since day one as Secretary of DILG.

He accused that the letter was initiated by his three undersecretaries – John Castriciones, Jesus Hinlo, and Emily Padilla -- who were piqued because of their clipped powers under the new delegation of authority which he issued last week.

He said they were resentful because he had to reassign some of the workload and projects to the other undersecretaries since nothing happened to the programs given to the said officials and nothing much is moving in terms of accomplishments.

“Nakakalungkot lang kasi magkakasama kami sa MRRD-NECC. It appears that from the very start, they want my head and are out to discredit me because they want somebody else to head the Department,” he said.

He also said that Undersecretary Austere Panadero, Assistant Secretary Ester Aldana, and Head Executive Assistant Josephine Leysa, who were mentioned in the letter, are all career officials and have been faithfully serving the Department for several years.

Sueno said that the appointment of the three undersecretaries in the DILG were not initially welcomed by the DILG organic personnel because they were "bullying and pushing people around."

However, he said that he gave them another chance to reform their ways considering that he does not want infighting within the organization. (SDR/SunStar Philippines)
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