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Ex-SBMA chair Diño says he's now DILG usec for barangay affairs

MANILA, Philippines – After he was replaced as chairman of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), Martin Diño said on Wednesday, September 27, that Malacañang asked him to be Undersecretary for Barangay Affairs under the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

He has already accepted this new post.

"Pinatawag ako sa Malacañang at ako ay inofferan ng posisyon, ito po ay ang Undersecretary for Barangay Affairs. Pinatawag po ako ni [Special Assistant to the President] Bong Go at Executive Secretary [Salvador] Medialdea," Diño said in a press conference on Wednesday.

(I was called to Malacañang and I was offered a position – Undersecretary for Barangay Affairs. I was called by Bong Go and Executive Secretary Medialdea.)

"Good soldier ako. Kung doon ako magiging epektibo ay tatanggapin ko po. Actually, tinanggap ko na 'yan," he added.

(I'm a good soldier. If I will be effective there then I will accept the offer. Actually, I already accepted it.)

Diño is disappointed, however, because he said he was not properly notified that he was being removed from his post and that Wilma Eisma had already been selected to replace him – an appointment which was announced by Malacañang on Tuesday afternoon, September 26.

Diño was at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) on Tuesday evening for the 120th anniversary of the Department of Justice (DOJ), which President Rodrigo Duterte attended.

"Nagtataka ako bakit ako tinitingnan, bakit ako pinagbubulungan, 'yun pala wala na akong posisyon. Hindi man lang ako sinabihan," Diño said.

(I was wondering why I was being stared at, why they were whispering. It turned out I no longer had a position. I wasn't even informed.)

LP links?

Diño blames Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra for the lack of notice. Eisma took her oath of office before Guevarra in Malacañang on Tuesday morning.

Diño linked both Guevarra and Eisma to the Liberal Party (LP) with a slideshow saying, "Nagtagumpay ang mga yellowtards sa Subic, alam kaya ni Presidente Duterte ito??" (The yellowtards succeeded in Subic, does President Rodrigo Duterte know this?)

"Itong si Guevarra ay dating tao ni Paquito Ochoa (executive secretary under the Aquino administration). Dito nag-oath si Eisma. Sino si Eisma? Ito ang chief of staff dati ni Mar Roxas sa DTI (Department of Trade and Industry)," Diño said.

(Guevarra was part of the staff of Paquito Ochoa. He administered Eisma's oath. Who is Eisma? She was the chief of staff of Mar Roxas at the DTI.)

A Rappler source, however, claimed it was Senator Richard Gordon who pushed for Eisma's appointment to the SBMA.

Eisma worked as Gordon's executive assistant and legal staff member when the senator served as SBMA chairman and administrator from 1992 to 1998. Eisma is supposedly Gordon's "protégé."

Corruption inside SBMA?

Eisma has been serving as SBMA administrator since January this year, and will continue holding the post, aside from being chairperson.

She and Diño have had clashes over the past months. Eisma claimed Diño encroached on the functions of her office.

In July, Diño filed a complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman, seeking to charge 13 SBMA officials with malversation, grave misconduct, serious dishonesty, and grave abuse of authority over unaccounted assets.

Diño, citing a report by the Commission on Audit (COA), said the SBMA has assets worth almost P27 billion which are unaccounted for.

Eisma said then that it was Diño’s attempt to hold on to his post.

On Wednesday, Diño insisted that there are many anomalies inside the SBMA, saying he has observed disadvantageous contracts in the agency.

"Lahat ng klaseng paninira inabot ko do'n (I endured all kinds of smear campaigns there)," he added.

Diño said he and the Volunteers against Crime and Corruption (VACC) would continue to go after those involved in anomalous acts in the SBMA even if he's no longer holding a position there. –

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.