Interior and Local Government Secretary Ismael ‘Mike’ D. Sueno on Monday vehemently denied that he is abusing his power and position as head of the DILG as alleged in a confidential letter to the President reportedly by the MRRD-NECC.
MRRD-NECC, which stands for Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte - National Executive Coordinating Committee, is the national volunteer organization that helped the former Davao City mayor get elected as president.
During the flag-raising ceremony, Sueno said that in his many years in public service, he has never used his position to enrich himself or pursue his personal interests.
“Mula noon hanggang ngayon, malakas ang adbokasiya ko laban sa corruption. Pareho kami ng paniniwala at ng paninindigan ng Pangulong Duterte laban dito. Kaya imposible ang mga akusasyon nila laban sa akin,” he said.
He said the hotel in South Cotabato mentioned in the letter belongs to his younger brother who is a long-time businessman, and the trucks are owned by his daughter who is engaged in a trucking and rice business.
He, however, admitted that the farm reported in the confidential letter belongs to him and that because of his flourishing duck business, he is now able to improve the property.
He also said reports accusing him of collecting grease money from illegal gambling rings through a certain Senior Supt. Sintin are preposterous because he had always said no to illegal gambling since Day One as Secretary of DILG.
The DILG Chief said he believes that the letter was initiated by his three undersecretaries – John Castriciones, Jesus V. Hinlo, and Emily Padilla -- who were piqued because of their clipped powers under the new delegation of authority which he issued last week.
He said they were resentful because he had to reassign some of the workload and projects to the other undersecretaries since nothing happened to the programs given to the said officials and nothing much is moving in terms of accomplishments.
“Nakakalungkot lang kasi magkakasama kami sa MRRD-NECC. It appears that from the very start, they want my head and are out to discredit me because they want somebody else to head the Department,” he said.
He also said that Undersecretary Panadero, Assistant Secretary Ester Aldana, and Head Executive Assistant Josephine Leysa, who were mentioned in the letter, are all career officials and have been faithfully serving the Department for several years.
“Matagal na pong tapos ang eleksyon. Wala pong halong politika ang pagbibigay natin ng assignment sa mga opisyal. Ang usapin po dito ay pagiging matino, mahusay at maaasahan,” he said.
Sueno said that the appointment of the three undersecretaries in the DILG were not initially welcomed by the DILG organic personnel because they were ‘bullying and pushing people around.’
However, he said that he gave them another chance to reform their ways considering that he does not want infighting within the organization.
Sueno also made it clear that he never told the Undersecretaries that their loyalty should be for him, and not for the President.
“This is a big lie. My prayer has always been for God to make me humbler than I was yesterday. I have always recognized the authority of the President and in the same way, I have encouraged my officials to do the same,” he said.
The DILG Secretary said that he does not cling to the position and just like any other Cabinet official, he serves at the pleasure of the President.
“Whatever the President’s decision may be, I believe that it will be a wise one,” he said.