Lagman likens Duterte to Marcos in firing appointed officials
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman on Tuesday said President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to fire officials appointed by the previous administration was reminiscent of an order made by late dictator Ferdinand Marcos after declaring martial law.
In a press briefing, the minority lawmaker cited Marcos’ letter of instruction dated Sept. 29, 1972, which ordered all appointed officers of the national government to resign not later than October 15, 1972.
Marcos issued the letter after declaring martial law on Sept. 21 in his bid to reorganize the executive and judiciary to meet the necessities of national emergency that prompted martial law.
Marcos’ letter read: “In order to facilitate the reorganization of the Executive Branch of the national government as directed in Presidential Decree No. 1, dated September 24, 1972, and in order that the Judicial Branch may also be reorganized so as to meet the necessities of the present national emergency, make the government machinery more responsive to the needs of the people and effect economy, I hereby direct, pursuant to General Order No. 1, dated September 22, 1972, as amended, that all officers of the national government whose appointments are vested in the President of the Philippines submit their resignations from office, thru their Department Heads, not later than October 15, 1972.”
Marcos exempted from his order the Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, the auditor general, and the chairman and members of the Commission on Elections.
Lagman said just like Marcos’ letter of instruction to control government, Duterte’s memorandum declaring appointed posts vacant smacks of lack of due process.
In Duterte’s memorandum circular 4 signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Duterte fired all presidential appointees of former President Benigno Aquino III. Duterte had said he was disappointed with the corruption that persisted during the officials’ term.
Exempted from the President’s order are:
- Newly-appointed Cabinet Secretaries, Undersecretaries, and Assistant Secretaries in their respective departments, including presidential advisers and assistants;
- Other officials in the Executive Department, including state universities and colleges, and government owned or controlled corporations (GOCCs), appointed by the incumbent President;
- Career officials as defined by the Civil Service Laws, rules, and regulations;
- Members of the judiciary;
- Officials whose offices are created by virtue of the Philippine Constitution such as Constitutional Commissions and Ombudsman; and
- Those whose appointments are currently being processed or who may be appointed by the President shortly after the effectivity of the memorandum circular.
“He’s demanding a courtesy resignation of all presidential appointees. I understand the memorandum circular has not been signed. No number yet, but the proposed circular (was issued) in view of the President’s desire to rid the bureaucracy of corruption, and give him a free hand in achieving the objective,” Lagman said.
“This proposed memorandum circular of the present administration is reminiscent of the letter of instruction 11 during martial law… You could see the similarity, a pattern of denying people, including public officials, due process,” Lagman added.
Lagman lamented that the former officials’ resignations due to purported corruption cast a “stigma” on their name because of Duterte’s order.
“When you say they should resign because of corruption, it’s already a stigma; there’s already a stigma attached to their resignation,” Lagman said.
Lagman said the officials accused of failing to curb corruption should be granted due process to clear their names instead of being unceremoniously removed.
“You have to balance these. Presidential appointees served under the pleasure of the President. But we feel very strongly that a widespread demand for resignation, even of presidential appointees, may not be valid in the face of principle that they should be given due process, particularly so when they are asked to resign because of alleged continuing corruption that already involves the stigma to their forced resignation,” Lagman said. JE/rga
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