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Duterte was misinformed, dismissed Sueno says

Dismissed Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno is all smiles as he poses for a photowith his former staff at the DILG.—LYN RILLON

Dismissed Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno is all smiles as he poses for a photowith his former staff at the DILG.—LYN RILLON

Former Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno on Thursday said President Duterte was “misinformed” when he decided to fire him on Monday based on corruption allegations contained in a confidential “white paper.”

Speaking to the media after a “send-off” ceremony at the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Sueno said he was not given due process and that Undersecretary Jesus Hinlo did not give him a copy of the October 2016 legal opinion on a firetrucks deal with Austria, which Mr. Duterte cited in firing him.

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“I think (Duterte) was misinformed. I think so. He acted and decided on what he has read in the white paper,” said Sueno, former governor of South Cotabato.

The Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte-National Executive Coordinating Committee (MRRD-NECC), the national volunteer organization that campaigned for Mr. Duterte in the 2016 elections, had sent a “confidential letter” to the President containing graft allegations against Sueno.

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Sueno and Hinlo are members of the MRRD-NECC.

But the former DILG chief said Hinlo did not give him a copy of the DILG legal opinion advising against payment for the Rosenbauer firetrucks deal while there was still a pending case against it in the Supreme Court.

Sueno pointed out that the government has not paid for the P528.8-million deal because under the contract, it would start paying only in 2021.

“Why would he hide it if he thought (the legal opinion was pointing out) danger (in the firetrucks deal)? Although, for me, there was no danger, if he thought there was, he should have told me about it,” Sueno said.

Sueno recalled before DILG employees his ordeal on Monday evening when the President confronted him about the firetrucks deal during Cabinet meeting and then fired him.

“At the end of the Cabinet meeting, (Duterte) told me: ‘I’m sorry, Secretary Sueno. I am dismissing you now,’” he said.

Sueno said he had forgiven Hinlo and two other DILG undersecretaries—John Castriciones and Emily Padilla—

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whom he earlier accused of being behind the white paper that led to his ouster.

Sueno also denied the graft charges against him, adding that he took his wife and daughter with him to Europe when he went to Austria in January to check on the firetrucks.

Interviewed during his visit to the Western Command in Palawan on Thursday, Mr. Duterte said he could never be misinformed.

“I’m a lawyer and I know what I am doing,” he said.

South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes said she always knew Sueno to be a man of integrity.

“I’m saddened by the development but we cannot question the decision of the President,” Fuentes said.

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TAGS: Department of the Interior and Local Government, Ismael Sueno, Philippine news updates, President Duterte
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