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Cabinet purge in the offing

President Rodrigo Duterte could revamp his Cabinet and assign Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol to another post, but he has not hinted anything, Malacañang said Tuesday. 

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said Duterte did not mention any supposed plan to make some changes in his Cabinet or to name another Agriculture secretary.

“I have not received any word on that... He [Duterte] has not mentioned anything,” Panelo said.

“We’ve heard for several months that Secretary Piñol will be replaced, but so far nothing has happened.”

Panelo also said Duterte still trusted 

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III despite the claims he allowed a provincial office of Philippine Health Insurance Corp. to rent out land belonging to his family.

“The presumption is you are innocent unless proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt,” Panelo said. 

“I think the secretary of Health still enjoys the trust and confidence of the President.”

Duque on Tuesday vowed to cooperate in the investigation being conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation on the multi-billion-peso bogus claims paid by PhilHealth to dialysis treatment centers.

Duque, who heads PhilHealth’s board, made the commitment when he met with Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra and NBI Director Dante Gierran at the Justice department on Tuesday.

Duque urged the public not to be distracted by the real issue involving PhilHealth.

“Let us not get distracted. The issue is not about me. The issue here is about corruption and fraud, Duque said.

Meanwhile, a source who requested anonymity said Duterte was disappointed with certain members of his official family.

He said Piñol’s stint in the Cabinet was under review after he made headlines in his response to the Reed Bank incident, in which a Chinese boat rammed a Filipino fishing boat, and the country’s rice crisis last year.

Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez made the recommendation to the President to transfer Piñol, the source said, adding Piñol could be transferred to the Mindanao Development Authority. 

He also said Duterte might announce a Cabinet revamp next month before he delivers his fourth State of the Nation Address on July 22.

Last week, Piñol met with the 22 Filipino fishermen who were left in distress at sea after a Chinese vessel rammed their boat in the vicinity of Recto Bank.

At first, the Occidental Mindoro-based fishermen said the Chinese vessel sank their boat, but after their closed-door meeting with Piñol, they were no longer sure if the Chinese vessel had indeed rammed their boat.

Observers believe Piñol, who led the government response team to the sinking of the FB GEM-VER 1, pressured them to change their tune, but Piñol quickly denied it.

Junel Insigne, the boat captain who had previously expressed dismay over the officials’ response to the incident, then apologized to Duterte. With Rey E. Requejo and Macon Ramos-Araneta

Topics: Rodrigo Duterte , Emmanuel Piñol , Salvador Panelo , Francisco Duque III
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