President Rodrigo Duterte himself confirmed that he had sacked Philippine National Oil Company-Exploration Corp. (PNOC-EC) President and Chief Executive Officer Pedro Aquino Jr. over what he described as an “idiotic contract” with a Russian oil company.
Speaking at the 45th Philippine Business Conference and Expo at the Manila Hotel in Ermita, Manila on Thursday night, Duterte said he had discovered that Moscow’s top oil producer Rosneft was left unaware of the supposed irregularities in the oil and gas development contract it signed with PNOC-EC in 2017.
“I just fired [someone] yesterday [at] a subsidiary of PNOC. It’s a company. Here is a guy (Aquino) who prepared a contract with the Russians. Well, the Russians thought that was all there is to it,” he added.
Aquino’s act, according to Duterte, was clearly opposed to the government’s rules and regulations.
“He wanted now the Board of Trustees to ratify what he prepared. Kaya sabi ko, ‘Adre, abugado ka?’ Sabi niya, ‘Yes.’ Sabi ko, ‘Anong kalokohan mo na baligtad (So, I told him, ‘Pal, are you a lawyer?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘But it’s a stupid act when you took the opposite direction),’” the President said.
“Instead of you na given the power to draft, to prepare, what not, and then after that have it approved by the Board of Directors? Baligtad ang gusto mo eh. Ikaw ‘yung contract (You went to the opposite direction. You crafted the contract) and you want the Board of Directors to ratify your idiotic contract,” he added.
On Tuesday, Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo announced that Duterte had booted Aquino out of the PNOC-EC for “loss of confidence.”
“We reiterate the directive of the President to all officials and employees of the government to undertake actions, which are only pursuant to what the law provides in the performance of their official functions and desist from committing any act that are, or may appear to be, irregular, illegal or dishonest,” he said.
Aquino’s exit from the PNOC-EC comes just weeks after Duterte’s trip to Russia, where the President asked Rosneft to invest in the Philippines.
The PNOC-EC, Rosneft and Hong Kong-based firm Pionaire Finance Ltd. sealed a trilateral agreement at an International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg, Russia in June 2017.