Duterte denies cabinet infighting

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President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday denied reports of infighting among members of his official family as he played down talk about a looming Cabinet revamp.

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“There is no infighting, there’s no ruckus there, there’s no trouble there. I just don’t like people who are corrupt,” Duterte told reporters.

The President said he has no plans to revamp his cabinet. However, those who will be rejected by the Commission on Appointments will have to go.

“If they are refused, hindi mo na talaga ma-reappointment ‘yun [you can no longer reappoint them]. The law does not allow it if you are rejected,” he explained.

He said that former undersecretary Maia Chiara Halmen Reina Valdez of the Office of the Cabinet Secretary was sacked because she “signed and approved” the importation of rice, overruling National Food Authority (NFA) Administrator Jason Aquino.

Valdez earlier explained that it was the National Food Authority Council (NFAC) that ruled the extension of the deadline for rice importation. She said she only voted in behalf of the Cabinet Secretary and that she has no influence over the high-ranking officials who are members of the council.

But Duterte criticized Valdez for not letting the Office of the President rule on the matter.

“The protocol, the procedure, the official procedure should be isauli mo ‘yan sa akin [return that to me]with the recommendation, then I will sign it. You’re not the Office of the President,” he said.

Duterte also fired Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno for “loss of trust and confidence” due to allegations of corruption, which the former Interior chief vehemently denied.

Last month, the President dismissed Peter Laviña as administrator of the National Irrigation Administration, also because of allegations of corruption.

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