Llamas given ‘slap on wrist’ over DVD fiasco
MANILA, Philippines—Malacañang has “formally admonished” Secretary Ronald Llamas, President Aquino’s adviser on political affairs, but allowed him to keep his job even after he was photographed buying pirated movie digital video discs (DVDs).
Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., by authority of President Aquino, told Llamas in a memorandum dated Feb. 2: “While strictly speaking, the act attributed to you, and which you admitted, is not a violation of the law, the impropriety of the action is without question. It is not an act expected from a public officer.”
Ochoa also warned Llamas of more severe sanctions if he committed another act of impropriety in the future.
Ochoa’s memo indicated that Llamas’ admission of his purchase of the DVDs and subsequent apology contributed to Llamas getting what appeared to be a slap on the wrist.
The publication by the Inquirer last month of a photograph of Llamas apparently buying pirated DVDs triggered calls for Mr. Aquino to fire him.
“However, taking into account your expression of ‘deep regret’ and your tender of an apology, you are hereby formally admonished and given a firm reminder that you should, in the future, observe a higher degree of circumspection and discretion even with regard to your private, nonofficial conduct,” Ochoa said.
“As a public officer, you would be well advised to act at all times with a high degree of prudence and propriety so as to avoid any possibility, however remote, that your personal conduct may inadvertently result in an erosion of the public’s faith and confidence in the administration,” he said.
Llamas on Monday apologized to the government “for any difficulty and unintended embarrassment” his purchase of the DVDs may have caused. He promised to “exercise more care and prudence” henceforth.
Llamas said he had also apologized to President Aquino “for the impropriety and lack of discretion as well as the unintended embarrassment this may have caused the administration.”
“I didn’t want the government to expend its energy over a regretful incident and so I submitted to the process that was launched and I am ready to face the findings and recommendations of the inquiry,” Llamas said.
President Aquino last week said Llamas continued to have his trust and confidence, adding that the perceived offense was not related to his core functions in the administration.
“He still performs the role that he was brought into the Cabinet for. So, therefore he does enjoy the trust,” the President said in an interview with reporters on Wednesday.
Mr. Aquino confirmed that Llamas apologized to him on Friday in connection with the gaffe that seemed to undermine the government’s antipiracy campaign.
President Aquino said that even with the issue of the purchase of pirated DVDs hanging over him, Llamas continued to give him updates about “ongoing activities and operations.”
Former Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. advised Llamas, a long-time friend: Don’t even try to buy illegal stuff, even though openly sold anywhere.
“Huwag na kasing bumili ng hindi dapat bilhin (Don’t buy what you are not supposed to buy),” he said at a roundtable discussion on climate change at the University of Makati on Tuesday.
Pimentel, asked to expound on his comment, told the Inquirer after the forum that Llamas’ purchase of counterfeit DVDs at a mall in Quezon City on Jan. 23 was “insensitive to the position that he holds as a presidential adviser.”
He added that the purchase might not be illegal under current antipiracy laws, but it still sent the wrong message. “It is probably taboo, and it’s not against the law,” Pimentel said. “But it appears to condone the production, trading, and selling of illegal DVDs.”
Pimentel, who said he got to know Llamas when they fought to topple the dictatorship of former President Ferdinand Marcos, urged his friend to watch his actions carefully.
“I want to tell him to be a little more careful and more vigilant of his actions, as all eyes are on him,” Pimentel said. “That’s really the nature of the job, especially if you are in the Cabinet. People look at you, looking for fissures in your character that can be used to make you look bad.”
Even if Llamas had apologized to the President and admitted that he forgot at times that he was “no longer a regular guy,” Pimentel said he should all the more be watchful of his moves.
“Thousands of eyes are watching,” he said.
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