Duterte claims SSS execs Valdez, La Viña abused public funds

MANILA, Philippines – Providing more details about why he did not renew the terms of Social Security System (SSS) chairman Amado Valdez and commissioner Pompee La Viña, President Rodrigo Duterte claimed they "abused" government funds.

Duterte, in his speech on Tuesday, February 13, listed the SSS officials as among those he sacked for misusing taxpayers' money.

"The latest of those who really who were abusing the use of public funds...CHED, MARINA, the guys responsible for the moorings there of the ships, and many others including the SSS," said Duterte.

He was speaking at the mass oath-taking of new government officials.

Earlier that day, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the services of Valdez and La Viña were terminated so as not to prolong a rift in the agency.

"In my view, the President is replacing them because he thinks the SSS will be more efficient if there is no rift in the SSS board," said Roque in Filipino during a press conference in Kalinga.

Months back, La Viña grabbed headlines when he accused other SSS officials of profiting from their positions.

The commission then conducted an investigation into 4 officials: Executive Vice President for Investments Rizaldy Capulong, Equities Investment Division Chief Reginald Candelaria, and Equities Product Development Head Ernesto Francisco Jr, and Chief Actuary George Ongkeko Jr.

Duterte appointed Valdez, a former dean of the University of the East College of Law, as SSS chairman in October 2016. La Viña, before serving as SSS Commissioner, was part of the social media team of Duterte’s presidential campaign. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.