Duterte sacks DOTr assistant secretary for dealing with his relative
President Rodrigo Duterte has fired Department of Transportation Assistant Secretary Mark Tolentino for dealing with the presidential relative.
Tolentino, in a press conference last week, said he had the blessing of a member of the President's family to discuss the Mindanao Railway project even without the authority of his bosses.
He accused some DOTr officials of derailing the implementation of the P36-billion railway project for their own interest.
"The mistake of Asec. Tolentino was that he talked with a relative of the President...And the reminder of the President is: no one in government should entertain any relative of the President in connection with any matter that has to do with government," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press briefing.
He said Tolentino's dismissal would serve as a warning for those who would attempt to talk with any member of the President's family.
DOTr Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan has denied any irregularity in the Mindanao Railway project.
He explained earlier that the DOTr tried to stop Tolentino from holding the press briefing last week while negotiation with China has been ongoing.
The DOTr is now considering China to totally finance the Mindanao Railway project, contrary to an earlier plan that the first Phase of the project would be funded by the national government.
In a separate statement, DOTr welcomed the President's move to sack Tolentino.
"Namedropping and seeking the assistance of the President, his family, or any other influential individual, either for government projects or for personal gain, will never be tolerated," it said.
"May this be a warning to all government officials and employees," it added.
DOTr assured that the Mindanao Railway, a priority project under Build, Build, Build infrastructure program of the Duterte administration, is "on track and on schedule."
Phase 1 (Tagum-Davao-Digos) will be completed in 2021, without delays and corruption, it said. Celerina Monte/DMS