Pres. Rodrigo Duterte has fired National Electrification Administration (NEA) head Edgardo Masongsong over corruption allegations.
The chief executive approved the recommendation of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) to have Masongsong be removed from office for allegedly allowing electric cooperatives to contribute to the campaign of partylist group Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association (PHILRECA) in the 2019 elections.
“I dismissed him from public service,” the chief executive said in a televised recorded address on Saturday morning.
Back in May, PACC chairman Greco Belgica said that based on his agency’s investigation, Masongsong never expressed objection to electric cooperatives’ (ECs) continued support for PHILRECA, which also is the ECs’ umbrella organization.
Duterte’s firing of Masongsong comes amid the string of questionable findings by the Commission on Audit (COA) in various government agencies.
“Isingit ko lang ito to show to the people. Eh kasi corruption itong [pinalalabas nitong] sa COA, eh. So, we have to correct that perception because it will destroy the faith of the people in government,” Duterte said.
Meanwhile, Masongsong said in a statement that the allegations are baseless “and that if granted due process and the opportunity to defend myself, I can establish that I am innocent of any wrongdoing.”
“In fact, a review of the NEA’s [COA] reports will show that at the time of the PACC’s allegations, there were no COA findings that there was wastage of government funds nor a whiff of corruption. It should also be noted that during my tenure as NEA chief, the agency twice received the highest audit rating from COA, evidence of the agency’s efforts towards transparency in its financial operations,” he continued.
Appointed by Duterte in 2016, Masongsong was a representative of 1-CARE party-list in the House of Representatives and served as general manager of the Bukidnon Second Electric Cooperative.
PHILRECA, for its part, cried foul over Masongsong’s axing. Rep. Presley De Jesus particularly noted that no one from the agencies COA questioned were relieved.
“Talagang mali ‘yung ginawa! Parang may double-standard dito. Kawalan talaga siya (Masongsong). Lahat kami, masama ang loob,” De Jesus told Power Philippines.
The Department of Health has been under fire after being flagged by COA for deficiencies in the use of Php67 billion during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this, Duterte has constantly defended Health Sec. Francisco Duque and called on government offices to shun the state auditing body.