In a recent press conference to explain the sacking of Duterte ally and former Dangerous Drugs Board Chair Dionisio Santiago, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque presented a complaint that outlined, among others, an alleged European vacation with his family.
While we can submit that the letter may have had a dubious origin, it was Santiago's own response that surfaced the facts that illuminated the issue.
Santiago explained that his family members "paid their own way" and "met up" before heading off in a "rented van" to Budapest, a good two and a half hour drive away from Austria where his official trip was held. The fact is that the junket was real, coming from his own mouth.
Of course, He took pains to assure us that he did not commit any wrongdoing. Yet what do we make of his own statement, that while the official trip was for Austria, he and his family consequently rendezvoused for Hungary? Did he make a personal trip within the time allotted for the authorized travel? Did he use taxpayers’ money to make the big part of the trip, the Manila to Austria leg, happen? These are things he may choose to answer
This rather hackneyed explanation is a slap against many lower level government employees who face harsh penalties for violating the limits of their official travel orders.
Using official trips for family vacations are improper and often violate the terms of travel authorizations and the use of the official government passport. Apparently, this was a norm during previous governments he once served, with authorities often pretending not to see or know about such improprieties.
Today, we must all "walk our talk" and follow rules. What is required of government clerks must be the same for the heads of their agencies. No exceptions, sir.
Duterte's oppositors are trying hard to paint the decision to sack Santiago as capricious, caused simply by something Santiago said.
In the end, his own admissions reveal that it was, in fact, because of something he did. (Photo: Philippine Daily Inquirer)