The Daily Manila Shimbun


Gov’t agencies ordered to seek nod from Duterte’s office before signing foreign deals

April 18, 2017

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered all government agencies to secure first his office's approval before negotiation or signing of international agreements and other deals covering borrowings, guarantees and foreign grants. This was contained in Memorandum Circular No. 16 issued on April 11, almost a week after Duterte fired Interior and Local Government Secretary Ismael Sueno over alleged corruption involving acquisition of firetrucks from Austria. "Considering the massive and growing interest of foreign governments and investors in the country, the Office of the President has deemed it appropriate to issue the MC to ensure the effective and efficient coordination among agencies," Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said. The circular provides that "prior to the negotiation or signing of a treaty or executive agreement, as well as agreements covering borrowings, guarantees, and foreign grants, authorization must be secured by the lead agency from the Office of the President, unless the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) determines that the nature or scope of the agreement does not require such authorization from the OP." All government agencies, including government-owned or -controlled corporations and state universities and colleges, were directed to coordinate closely with the DFA prior to the negotiation and signing of international agreements and/or with the Department of Finance prior to the negotiation and signing of agreements covering borrowings, guarantees, and foreign grants. The circular said authorization for negotiation and signing of such agreements shall be granted in writing through full powers, special authority, letter or memorandum signed by the President, or the Executive Secretary "by authority of the President." Before asking for authorizations, the agencies concerned should strictly observe and comply with the requirements of complete staff work under MC No. 68 issued during the Arroyo administration. "To give the Office of the President sufficient time to evaluate and process the abovementioned requests, the same should be submitted to the OP, through the DFA or the DOF, as the case may be, at least 10 working days before the desired date of issuance," the memorandum circular said. Sueno was dismissed from his post on April 3 during a Cabinet meeting after he  proceeded with the transaction on the purchase of the firetrucks despite a pending case with the Supreme Court. Sueno denied he was involved in corruption and expressed readiness to face any complaint  to be filed against him. While there is a pending petition before the high court against the acquisition of the firetrucks, which was approved during the previous administration, Sueno had said that there was no temporary restraining order that would prevent the Department of Interior and Local Government to push with the contract. Celerina Monte/DMS