Duterte appoints Elpidio Vega as government corporate counsel

Pia Ranada

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Duterte appoints Elpidio Vega as government corporate counsel
Vega was among the 5 OGCC officials who the Commission on Audit said received excessive allowances in 2017 from government corporation clients

MANILA, Philippines – Deputy Government Corporate Counsel Elpidio Vega has been promoted by President Rodrigo Duterte and is now the new government corporate counsel, replacing the embattled Rudolf Jurado.

The President signed Vega’s appointment papers on September 27, but his appointment was announced on Monday, October 1.

Before his promotion, Vega served as the acting government corporate counsel after Jurado was fired by Duterte last May or 4 months ago.

Vega was among the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) officials who Jurado locked horns with. Jurado tried to enforce a Commission on Audit (COA) recommendation that accused Vega and 4 other OGCC lawyers of receiving excessive allowances from government owned and controlled corporations, the mandated clients of the OGCC.

In its 2017 audit report, the COA ordered Vega and the 4 lawyers to refund the excess, amounting to some P622,000.

Jurado told the officials to submit position papers to justify the amount of allowances. He also told the lawyers to refrain from directly receiving allowances, and instructed them to tell their clients that allowances should henceforth be coursed through the OGCC.

Vega and the other lawyers refused to comply with Jurado’s orders.

These series of events transpired from March to April this year. A month later, on May 23, a letter from “OGCC lawyers” was read over radio station DZMM accusing Jurado of corruption, including supposed favors to the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone (Apeco) and the approval of a “75-year casino permit.” Jurado denied the accusations.

Five days later, Duterte announced that he had fired Jurado.

Jurado claimed Vega and the 4 other OGCC officials “maligned” his reputation because of his efforts to stop them from receiving excessive allowances.

Vega’s Palace connection?

Sources both in the OGCC and Malacañang claim Vega is well-connected in Malacañang, primarily because of Undersecretary Melchor Quitain. Vega is supposedly Quitain’s nephew.

Quitain enjoys warm ties with Duterte as his former Davao City administrator. The undersecretary is a longtime speechwriter of Duterte’s and still writes many of his most important speeches as President, including his State of the Nation Addresses and inaugural speech.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he is “not aware” of any relationship between Vega and Quitain.

Quitain did not respond to Rappler’s request for comment.

Vega was first appointed as deputy government corporate counsel during the administration of Fidel Ramos. He served in this post in the Joseph Estrada administration as well. – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is Rappler’s Community Lead, in charge of linking our journalism with communities for impact.