Duterte tells Cabinet: I will give you a free hand but you'll be...

Duterte tells Cabinet: I will give you a free hand but you'll be answerable

Shared/Posted: Jun 17, 2016 at 04:44pm

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ncoming President Rodrigo Duterte had a three-hour meeting with his Cabinet at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay on Wednesday night, June 15. RTVM

DAVAO CITY — President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has reminded his incoming Cabinet members to ensure that his administration would not be tainted with corruption or they would be answerable to him for their misdeeds.

Duterte made the reminder during the three-hour meeting with his designated officials at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay on Wednesday night, incoming Agriculture secretary Emmanuel Piñol said.

“We were told by the president that there should be no corruption, make sure there is no corruption. (He said) nobody from my family will interfere with your work, I’m giving you a free hand on the people you choose,” Piñol told reporters Thursday here.

“But you (incoming Cabinet members) are answerable to me for your misdeeds and for the people you have chosen,” he added.

“We are accountable for every misstep we make. It was a very clear statement.”

It remains unclear what Duterte would do in the event that his officials get involved in corruption. Piñol, however, believes that Duterte would not hesitate to remove those who are guilty of wrongdoings.

“The president would relieve the entire department and city hall if one commits a wrongdoing. I think that’s still the same mindset,” the incoming Agriculture chief said.

“Nobody is indispensable. There are no (sacred) cows,” he added.

Piñol said Duterte was serious but in a light mood when he presided over the meeting.

“We are upbeat. We are happy. The president was very happy,” he said.

Last month, Duterte vowed to be harsh when it comes to corruption and has outlined bold measures to address the problem.

He is planning to reshuffle personnel at the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Bureau of Customs and Land Transportation Office, agencies that he described as “most corrupt.” The tough-talking Duterte will also prohibit military and police officers from tagging along with them their staff in their next assignments to prevent payoffs. He has also warned judges against issuing temporary restraining orders for a fee, a practice that he said had delayed important government projects.

While he was criticized for his plan to put his classmates in key posts and for supposey "recycling" officials from previous administrations, Duterte said his administration would be filled with “men of integrity and honesty.”
Other issues

Piñol said other matters tackled during the meeting were the K to 12 program, traffic problem, budget and food security.

He said incoming Education Secretary Leonor Briones informed the president that it is too late to shift gears with regard to K to 12 because of a law that institutionalized the program.

“She (Briones) is open to improvement and modification but is steadfast in her position that there is no way we can amend that because of the law,” Piñol said.

Piñol reported to Duterte his consultations with farmers who are affected by the El Niño phenomenon.

He said he is eyeing a cash for work program for farmers and fishermen so they can earn additional income. Under his proposal, farmers and fishermen would be asked to prepare roads, clean bodies of water and plant mangroves, among other tasks.

Piñol said he is also working closely with seed growers to increase rice production in preparation for La Nina, which is expected to hit the country in November.

“We are talking to seed growers. We want to know how many seeds are available. By October, we have to harvest them. The planting should be done in July so we can have enough rice,” he said.

Piñol said incoming Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade reported about the traffic problem in Metro Manila and proposed cracking down on unregistered or “colorum” vehicles.

With regard to the proposal to grant Duterte emergency powers to address traffic woes, Piñol said the matter “was referred to the legal minds.”

Incoming Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, meanwhile, informed Duterte that about P1.7 trillion remains unspent in this year’s budget.

Incoming Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez discussed his proposed meeting with the business sector from June 20 to 21 here. Duterte is expected to attend the second day of the meeting.

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