INTERIOR Secretary Ismael Sueno maintained on Tuesday that he did no wrong, and that he is prepared to clear his name and face any investigation.
“I wholeheartedly accept the decision of the President. It is his call if he wants me in his Cabinet or not. But for the record, Mr. President, and I can say this with all honesty and sincerity, hindi po ako corrupt (I am not corrupt),” Sueno stressed.
He said allegations hurled against him should have been validated, adding that the President was fed the wrong information by those who were “salivating for his post.”
“If only the President asked DILG personnel from the central down to the regional and field offices, he would have known who amongst us are more credible and trustworthy,” he said.
“My conscience is clear. Inuulit ko po, wala akong ginawa o ginagawang anomalya (I repeat, I did not do and I am not doing any anomaly),” he said.
One of the issues hurled against Sueno in the confidential letter sent to Malacañang is the alleged anomalous payment of the Rosenbauer fire trucks acquired by the DILG.
But Sueno said he could not have prevented the purchase of the fire trucks because it was a perfected contract entered into by the previous administration.
“My role was to abide by the provision of the contract which says that I should ensure that the fire trucks to be delivered are in good condition so my team and I had to go to Austria to inspect them,” he said.
He added that the fire trucks were acquired cheap and under a soft loan agreement with minimal interest.
“The Austrian fire trucks are new compared to the locally-made ones which are cheaper but are reconditioned and which are good only for a few years. But then again, this is beside the point. The contract is perfected and I only had to implement it,” he said.
Business as usual
Despite Suneo’s sacking, it was business as usual at the DILG.
Assistant Secretary Rico Judge Echiverri, the department’s spokesman, said there will be no break or disruption of operations even if the President has yet to name Sueno’s replacement.
He admitted that news of Sueno’s firing shocked DILG personnel.
“It was so fast, what is happening here really shocked everyone in the DILG,” Echiverri said.
The DILG had been rocked by the dispute between Sueno and three of his undersecretaries — John Castriciones, Jesus Hinlo and Emily Padilla.
But Echiveri said the department will continue to implement Sueno’s programs “because it is business as usual.”
Castriciones echoed Echiverri, saying Sueno’s exit will not affect the responsibilities and duties of DILG personnel.
“Through other officials like the assistant secretaries, we will continue the services to be provided by the [DILG],” he told reporters.
Castriciones said he and his colleagues will not file charges against Sueno.
“But if the President says so, then that is when we will be filing charges. It’s the President’s discretion.”