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Duterte orders Cabinet: No corruption

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PASAY CITY (via PhilAmPress) ― President-elect Rodrigo Duterte met his would-be Cabinet members for the second time on June 16 this time at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City and renewed his marching order to them - "No corruption or be held accountable."


Two weeks before assuming office, Duterte and the Cabinet met map out plans for their administration which begins on June 30 after the oath-taking in Malacanang.


Duterte will take his oath of office before Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes.


Reyes received his Bachelor of Laws Degree at San Beda College, where the long-time mayor of Davao City also took his law degree.


Reyes and Duterte are both members of the Lex Talionis Fraternity. Duterte founded the fraternity's Davao chapter.


Reyes was appointed Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals (CA) in 2000. He left the CA in 2011 after he was appointed SC Associate Justice by President Benigno Aquino III.


Duterte will have a "simple" inauguration at the Rizal Ceremonial Hall of Malacañang on June 30 "consistent with his principles on austerity," said Christopher Go, presidential executive assistant and head of the Presidential Management Staff (PMS).


Incoming Palace communications secretary Martin Andanar said simple food will be served to Duterte's guests, such as "maruya" and buko juice.


Vice President-elect Leni Robredo will have a separate inauguration as the Rizal Hall cannot accommodate both Duterte's guests and Robredo's.


Duterte's Cabinet members are also not entitled to bring their spouses, children and other guests since the space is limited to only 500 people.


This will mark the first time in recent years that the country's two highest elected officials will be inaugurated separately.


During their meeting, Duterte assured his Cabinet members he will not interfere with their job, and will give them a free hand to select their people to work with.


Duterte, however, stressed he is holding the Cabinet secretaries answerable when things go wrong in their respective offices or if their chosen officials become involved in illegal activities.


"Sabi niya there should be no corruption. Nobody from my family will interfere with your work. You'll have a free hand on the people you choose, but you are answerable to me for your misdeeds and for the people you have chosen," said incoming Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol at a press briefing after the meeting.


"The president would relieve the entire department sa city hall pag may isang nagkamali. I think that's still the same mindset. Nobody is indispensable. Walang holy cow dito," Pinol added.


He told reporters that despite the stern warning, the second Cabinet meeting was "upbeat" as they were able to tackle several issues.


 Piñol said the Cabinet meeting at the PICC was their second meeting on a bigger scale in terms of number wherein many issues were discussed. Their first meeting was held at the Department of Public Works and Highways office in Davao City a few days ago.


Piñol, a former governor of North Cotabato, journalist and sportscaster and promoter, said no corruption was the general instruction of Duterte. “We are held accountable – he was clear that there should be no corruption. There is no indispensable,” he added.


"This is in keeping with the centerpiece of the Duterte pledge during the campaign to stopg corruption, crimes and illegal drugs," Pinol said at a press briefing after the meeting.


Among all issues, Duterte took special concern on the implementation of the K-12 program of the Department of Education (DepEd), he said.


Piñol said Duterte was worried of the impact of K-12 program. Even in previous interviews, Duterte was concerned of the problems from the aberration created because of K-12.


He said there are many students that could run to hundreds who cannot enroll in the senior high school and the teachers who will be displaced from their jobs.


"It would appear he is really concerned sa K-12, sa availability and affordability of food, Metro Manila traffic, security and how much money is there to fulfill it," Piñol said.


Duterte, who was "in a light but serious mood," asked incoming Education Secretary Leonor Briones to explain why the government needs to push for the K-12 education system.


"Sabi niya (Briones), it's too late in the day to shift gears because there is a law. Kapag binago ang K-12, the leadership would violate the law," Piñol said.


"She (Briones) is open to improvement and modification (of the K-12), but steadfast in her post that there is no way we can amend that," he said.


In the meeting, incoming Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade presented proposals to address the traffic problem, one of which is to get rid the streets of Metro Manila of "colorum" vehicles.


Piñol said an emergency power for Duterte to address traffic was briefly discussed but this was referred to newly-named Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo to study.

Panelo was also directed to look into plans to release billions of pesos in coconut levy fund to coconut farmers.


In 2014, the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) implemented a massive crackdown of colorum vehicles even imposing stiffer fines on vehicles and public utility vehicles operating without the necessary franchise from government regulatory agencies.


Violators will have to pay fines ranging from P6,000 for illegal motorcycles to as high as P1 million for buses operating illegally. The higher fines were stipulated in the joint administrative order (JAO). Colorum vehicles will also be impounded for a minimum of three months.


Other Cabinet members who attended the meeting were Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, spokesperson Salvador Panelo, incoming Secretaries Judy Taguiwalo (Social Welfare), Benjamin Diokno (Budget), Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, and incoming police chief Chief Supt. Ronald dela Rosa.

Those who did not attend included incoming peace adviser Jesus Dureza and next labor chief Silvestre Bello III, who were both in Norway for the initial talks with Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison and his group.

Overall, Piñol said the meeting went well with Duterte steadfast in bringing change in the country.


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