Duterte fires Marina administrator for foreign ‘junkets’

Pia Ranada
Duterte fires Marina administrator for foreign ‘junkets’
(UPDATED) Marcial Quirico Amaro III is fired for going on 18 foreign trips in 2017, announces Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Rodrigo Duterte fired Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) Administrator Marcial Quirico Amaro III for frequent travels abroad, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque announced on Thursday, January 4.

During a press conference in Davao City, Roque said Duterte had decided to “terminate the services” of Amaro for “excessive” trips abroad.

Amaro was the subject of a complaint supposedly sent by the Alliance of Marina Employees to the Office of the President.

The group accused Amaro of going on 11 foreign junkets in 2017, making him an “absentee administrator.” But Roque said Department of Transportation documents showed Amaro went on 18 trips last year and 6 trips in 2016, for a total of 24 trips.

“The point of the President is we have to be selective in the trips we have to undertake. Definitely, 24 trips is excessive,” said Duterte’s spokesman.

Of the 24 trips Amaro made, one was not an official trip while 3 were sponsored by another body. Thus, of these travels, 21 were paid for using government funds.

Roque also said Amaro received an “honorarium” from “almost all” of these visits.

Roque was supposed to have announced Duterte’s decision to fire Amaro on Wednesday, January 3, during a Malacañang press briefing.

But on Wednesday morning, he said he had received instructions from the President to defer the announcement.

Roque was told Duterte was still reviewing Marina’s legislative charter.

Presidential Decree Number 474, which created Marina, states that the President “may remove the Administrator or Deputy Administrators from office for cause upon recommendation of the Board.”

Roque earlier said Duterte wanted Amaro’s sacking to be made public as early as January 1 but the spokesman had asked the President to postpone the announcement to January 3 so the official could enjoy their New Year holiday.

In fulfillment of his “one whiff, you’re out” policy, Duterte has axed several other high-ranking government officials, including Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno, National Irrigation Administration chief Peter Laviña, Budget Undersecretary Gertrudo de Leon, Dangerous Drugs Board Chairman Dionisio Santiago, and Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor Chairman Terry Ridon and all of the PCUP’s commissioners.

Just last month, Duterte asked Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) President Elba Cruz to vacate her post as her term already expired in June 2017.

DAP employees accused Cruz of unauthorized organizational restructuring of the DAP, violations of Civil Service Commission (CSC) rules, continuous threats of mass termination against employees, and frequent foreign travels.

Roque had also said Duterte intends to fire several police officers. This comes over a month after he ordered the return of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to his controversial drug war. – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.