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Philippines president sacks government official over “excessive” foreign travels

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures as he delivers a speech during the change of command ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo in Manila on October 26, 2017. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte leads the military change of command from outgoing chief of staff General Eduardo Ano to new head Lieutenant General Rey Lenonardo Guerrero. NOEL CELIS / AFP

President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday sacked a ranking Philippines government official for making excessive foreign travels mostly at government expense, a government spokesman said.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque told a news conference in Davao City in the southern Philippines that Duterte sacked Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) administrator Marcial Amaro for frequent foreign travels with government mostly footing the bill.

Amaro was appointed by the president to the post in July 2016.

According to the government documents, he made 18 official foreign travels in 2017 and six in 2016, equalling an average of four foreign trips every quarter.

Meanwhile, the Association of MARINA Employees accused Amaro of impropriety.

The employees sent a letter to Duterte in December detailing Amaro’s foreign trips in 2017, forcing him to look into the employees’ complaint.

Roque said that all Amaro’s trips, except for one, are official.

“The point of the president is we must be selective on the trips that we will undertake and that definitely 24 travels are excessive,’’ he stressed.

He said that only three of Amaro’s trips were sponsored trips and the rest were paid by the government.

“The president has decided, therefore, to terminate his services,’’ Roque said.

Report says Amaro is the third government official that Duterte terminated for going on junkets.

On Dec. 12, Duterte dismissed Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor chair Terry Ridon for making seven trips abroad in 15 months.

After about a week, Duterte asked the president of the Development Academy of the Philippine Elba Cruz to leave her post for the reason of “excessive” trips abroad.

Duterte issued a memo on Wednesday imposing stricter rules on official foreign travels in a bid to curb “extravagant and lavish” trips abroad by government officials and employees.

Roque reiterated Duterte’s order, saying that government officials and employees can only make the trip if it is related to the functions of the government.

“It must not be too pricey, it must not be too costly and the benefits to the country of the trip must be substantial,’’ he said.


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