PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has declared all appointive positions in the government vacant, saying corruption has continued despite his previous admonitions to public officials to shape up.
The President, in a news conference in Davao City at 1 a.m. on Sunday, particularly called out top officials of the Land Transportation Office and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
“If you are there because of the presidential appointment, I will declare all your positions all throughout the country vacant. You know why? Because until now, in my provincial visits, I still hear corruption being committed by people, especially in the regulatory agencies,” Duterte said.
“Consider your positions vacant, as of this hour. It will number in thousands. Consider yourself in the crucible of the truth about corruption in this country,” he added.
Duterte cited an LTFRB official whom he had summoned to Malacañang, but did not give a name or go into detail.
Under the Constitution, the President should “nominate and, with the consent of the Commission on Appointments, appoint the heads of the executive departments, ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, or officers of the armed forces from the rank of colonel or naval captain, and other officers whose appointments are vested in him in this Constitution.”
The President allayed fears that kicking out appointed officials would hamper government operations and slow down the delivery of basic services, noting that deputies exist to avoid a vacuum.
“Where is the deputy, then? Why do I have to appoint an assistant? See my case. If I go today, you will look for [Vice President] Robredo. That is how we work. If you lose the President tonight, then you go to the house of Robredo to report. Just like that. That’s why we have a bureaucracy,” Duterte said.
The order, however, excludes Cabinet secretaries and their deputies, said Palace Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, who echoed the President’s statements.
“The bureaucracy will stand even without its leaders. There are deputies; there are career officers. There won’t be a problem,” Andanar said in a radio interview.
Andanar said the replacements will undergo a credible vetting process by the Presidential Management Staff supervised by Secretary Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.