MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said he asked for the resignation of Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) chair Dionisio Santiago because he was “offended” by Santiago’s “incongruous” public comments on the construction of a mega drug rehabilitation facility in Nueva Ecija.
“Nagbitaw siya ng salita that ‘it is a waste of money,’ that ‘it is not the right approach.’ So he came up with a very incongruous statement. I was offended. He could have asked me for an audience and then tell me all about it,” Duterte told reporters prior to his departure for Vietnam to attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit.
The President said he appointed Santiago to the post to advise him on the problems and possible solutions to the drug problem, and not to air his misgivings in public.
“Kaya kita inilagay diyan not to issue statements to the press. Nilagay kita diyan para magpunta ka sa akin kung ano ang problema sa bayan at turuan mo ako kung nagkulang ako, kung ano ang dapat kong gawin. But you do not go open to the press and start to blabber,” Duterte said.
Santiago tendered his irrevocable resignation on Tuesday reportedly following a call from Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea telling him that the President wanted him to resign.
His resignation came a week after the former DDB chair commented in a television interview that the construction of the 10,000-bed drug rehabilitation was “impractical.”
The rehab center was built in partnership with philanthropists, led by Chinese tycoon Huang Rulun.
Santiago, a former military chief and head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, said that funds for the project could be used instead in building community-based drug rehabilitation centers that are more accessible to drug dependents.
His resignation came barely five months after his appointment in July.
He replaced then DDB chair Benjamin Reyes, who was fired by Duterte in May.
In the meantime, President Duterte said he has yet to decide on Santiago's replacement. (PNA)