MANILA, Philippines – Through documents unearthed by his own staff following his unceremonious dismissal, former interior secretary Ismael Sueno on Thursday, April 6, insisted corruption allegations against him were untrue.
His dismissal, he would later on admit, was because President Rodrigo Duterte had been "misinformed" by 3 undersecretaries at Sueno's former department who allegedly "conspired" to have him removed.
Duterte fired Sueno Monday night, April 3, at the end of a Cabinet meeting, amid allegations that he made money from his 9-month stint as secretary of the powerful Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
The DILG oversees all local government units and the country's public safety bureaus – the Bureau of Fire Protection, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, and the Philippine National Police – among other tasks.
The former Koronadal mayor, in particular, was accused of supposedly benefitting from the acquisition of Rosenbauer firetrucks from Austria.
It was his apparent "wrong" answer to Duterte's questions about these during the Monday meeting that led to his dismissal.
Speaking after a send-off mass and program at the National Police Commission (Napolcom) building on Thursday, Sueno answered point-by-point the allegations made against him in a confidential memo submitted by 3 DILG undersecretaries.
He distributed to the media an 8-page summary of his response with the heading,"3 DILG Usecs (all lawyers) conspired and misled President Duterte to summarily dismiss an innocent DILG secretary."
Sueno also showed documents to show his trip to Austria, as part of the firetrucks deal, had been allowed by Malacañang through Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.
He also said that while it's true that his wife and child accompanied him during his official trip to Austria, the government did not spend a single cent for them.
The former Cabinet official, who was among Duterte's staunchest supporters during the 2016 presidential elections, said his explanation has been submitted, but the Palace considers it moot and academic since he has already been sacked.
In his speech before DILG employees and in his press conference before the media, Sueno emphasized that he still believes in Duterte, although he admitted he was "hurt" and "traumatized" by the experience.
He said he was still willing to speak to his long-time friend, if invited, but said it would take some time for the pain to subside.
Sueno said he would not initiate any effort to reach out to the President at this time, since the Chief Executive does not want to listen to his explanation.
In a media interview in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, on Thursday, Duterte said he had "sound basis" to sack Sueno, as he brushed aside insinuations that he had been misinformed about the former official. (READ: Duterte on firing Sueno: 'I could never be misinformed') – Rappler.com