Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno on Monday admitted that he received a request to protect gambling syndicates in exchange for payoffs but he turned it down.
Sueno made the admission amid allegations of corruption hurled against him.
“There is a group that insisted that I take the payoffs from illegal gambling. They got in touch with the gambling lords about the payola [and]I rejected their offer,” he said.
At the flag-raising ceremony at the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) yesterday, Sueno addressed the allegations against him as well as his dispute with three of his undersecretaries — John Castriciones, Jesus Hinlo and Emily Padilla.
Sueno maintained that he never used his position to enrich himself.
“From the very start up until this moment, I am a strong advocate of the fight against corruption. Me and President (Rodrigo) Duterte both share this advocacy, so their allegations against me are impossible,” he said.
An anonymous letter was sent to the Office of the President recently, seeking Sueno’s removal because of his alleged collection of grease money from illegal gambling rings through his grandson.
Sueno admitted that he has a grandson who holds a “high position” at the Philippine National Police in Camp Crame, Quezon City but that he has no influence over the police officer.
He also denied owning a hotel in Marbel, South Cotabato, saying it belongs to his brother.
“My brother is probably 20 times richer than me. I do not have the financial capacity to build such a big structure,” Sueno explained.
The DILG chief believes that the unsigned letter alleging his misdeeds was sent by Castriciones, Hinlo and Padilla. He said the officials resented him because reassigned some of their works and projects to other department officials.
“It’s just sad because we are all together in the MRRD-NECC (Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte-National Executive Coordinating Committee),” Sueno lamented.
MRRD-NECC is the national volunteer organization that campaigned for Duterte.
“It appears that from the very start, they wanted my head and are out to discredit me because they want somebody else to head the department,” the DILG chief said.
Sueno added that the three undersecretaries are the ones linked to corruption, not him.
Castriciones laughed it off.
“He [Sueno] is out of his mind. He is the one putting himself in (the line of) fire with the allegations and linkages and he is causing his own downfall,” Castriciones told reporters.
Castriciones said their fate is up to the President.
“It is up to him [Duterte]. That is the President’s call, to determine who is telling the truth and I know that the President shall know who is really telling the truth,” he said. “The truth shall set us free.” DEMPSEY REYES