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Palace backtracks: PCSO chief quit, wasn’t fired

/ 05:40 AM March 12, 2019

Malacañang has backtracked from its previous pronouncement that President Duterte fired Alexander Balutan as general manager of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

In a statement issued on Monday afternoon, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo clarified that Balutan tendered his resignation through a letter submitted to the Palace.

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“We wish to clarify that former PCSO General Manager Alexander Balutan has, indeed, tendered his resignation through a letter submitted to the Office of the President (OP),” Panelo said.

He added: “The said written communication was, however, formally received by the OP only after the Palace has already announced his cessation (sic) from office.”

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Reason unclear

The Palace has not yet given a clear reason for Balutan’s removal or the details of the corruption allegations against him.

Last Friday, Panelo announced that the President “terminated the services” of Balutan, a retired military officer, due to “serious allegations of corruption.”

He did not give details on the corruption allegations against the former PCSO general manager, only stressing that the government’s anticorruption drive would spare no one.

The President, during his speeches in Negros Occidental on Friday night, did not make any mention of his decision to fire Balutan.

For his part, Balutan claimed that Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea called him to tell him that some “powerful people” were behind the decision to remove him from the PCSO.

No response

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During Monday’s press briefing, however, Panelo declined to respond to questions concerning Balutan, repeatedly saying he will issue a statement later in the day.

On Monday afternoon, Panelo reaffirmed that Balutan “resigned out of delicadeza because of, as we have said, serious allegations of corruption in the PCSO.”

“He has requested the President for a fair and impartial investigation to ferret out the truth on the matter. We hope this sets the record straight on the timeline of what transpired,” the presidential spokesperson said.

Balutan is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Matikas Class of 1983 and is one of several retired military officers that Mr. Duterte named to government positions.

Key role

During the term of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Balutan testified on his knowledge of cheating in the 2004 presidential elections that Arroyo won.

He did so before the Senate, despite Arroyo’s directive banning government officials from testifying on the allegations.
Years later, Sandra Cam, another appointee of the President to the PCSO’s board, accused Balutan of overspending on the PCSO’s Christmas party in 2017.

The following year, she accused him of favoring a firm’s bid to be licensed as a small town lottery agent, which Balutan denied.

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TAGS: Alexander Balutan, PCSO, Salvador Panelo
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