Philippine Information Agency Director General Harold Clavite vowed to defy the order of Communications Secretary Martin Andanar preventing him from traveling to America due to an ongoing investigation over corruption.

On his Facebook account, Clavite rued how Sec. Andanar denied his long overdue request to travel to the US to be with his youngest daughter on her ballet recital this June 15.

Clavite said he submitted his application for leave on May 21 to which Andanar allegedly approved verbally. On June 10, Clavite said he received a letter from Andanar denying his application for leave due to corruption allegation.

Clavite claimed that the corruption allegation levelled against him came from an anonymous letter. He questioned how Sec. Andanar readily took action on an anonymous letter while the secretary failed to take action on the report Clavite sent to the Office of the Executive Secretary coursed thru the PCOO Secretary about the irregularities in PIA.

“It is unfortunate that the PCOO Secretary and his lawyer would establish probable cause on their own, based on an anonymous letter, without having to wait for an official response from my side. The establishment of prima facie is determined through a formal investigation as convened by the disciplining authority, which they have not done. It is interesting to note also that when I sent a report and complaint to the Office of the Executive Secretary (OES) through the PCOO in May 2019 in relation to irregularities in PIA, the Secretary did not take any action. And while an anonymous letter was sent to them against me, they quickly and easily declare probable cause,” Clavite said in his June 10 Facebook post.

With regards to the denial of his application for leave and authority to travel, Clavite said that he still plans on traveling to the US to be with his two daughters whom he plans to bring back to the Philippines for a vacation.

I left my family in 2016 to help the President and serve the country I so love and respect. Now I am ready and willing to give up that commitment for Stacey’s ballet recital. I am a New Yorker. I am rude. Get out of my way, idiots! See you at the airport,” Clavite said.

The PIA top honcho also said that Andanar was “ill-advised and is making haphazard decisions”.

“Give me a break. The Secretary is clearly ill-advised and is making haphazard decisions. Surrounded by the best of the best running his immediate office, he has been consistent in making inappropriate moves as far as PIA is concerned since 2017. I have a list and I’m happy to share. I cannot let this pass. Government officials especially those who represent the President should study their acts well and be mindful of their decisions and actions. I sacrificed too much and I don’t deserve this stupidity and shall not allow myself to be bullied this way,” Clavite said.

HOW THE TIFF STARTED

The problem at the PIA reportedly started upon the appointment of Benjamin R. Felipe, Director V, last June 2018. Felipe is a television comedian who once worked with Andanar in TV5.
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Clavite accused Felipe as having masterminded all of the false and negative accusations against him since his appointment last year. Among the incidents that happened which Clavite suspects was perpetrated by Felipe are the following:
 
1. An anonymous Twitter account was created posting negative issues against Clavite on a daily basis; 
2. Anonymous letters were purportedly sent to the Ombudsman and PCOO alleging corruption and abuse of authority cases against Clavite;
3. Fabricated information was leaked to private media and in fact, PIA and the Director-General were the subject of a blind item with GMA Teleradyo Arnold Clavio’s morning program in May 2019;
4. News articles were published in tabloids Tonight (18 May 2019) and Malaya (20 May 2019) and shared on Facebook alleging that the undersigned has been a corrupt and abusive official and that he is currently facing five (5) cases in the Ombudsman;
5. Wrong information and twisted facts have been spread among PIA rank and file personnel as well as other PCOO officials and its attached agencies.

Clavite said there have been first-hand information relayed to him in relation to the narrative of Mr. Felipe, depicting a very negative picture of the head of Agency.

“Mr. Felipe has been found by PIA officers and personnel as exerting too much effort to discredit me. Instead of allowing dialogue and internal discussions on issues, Mr. Felipe had chosen to spread rumors causing divisiveness and animosity among PIA personnel,” said Clavite in his letter to the Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea dated May 22, 2019.

In a memorandum dated May 21, Clavite also directed Felipe to explain his behavior a day earlier during their flag ceremony where in Felioe allegedly disrespected and undermined Clavite’s authority infront of employees and personnel by raising his voice several times and contemptuously charging the PIA director general with wrongdoing.

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Clavite was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte as Director-General of PIA on 27 July 2016. Prior to this appointment, he worked in the United Nations Development Programme Headquarters in New York City. Clavite has more than 23 years of untainted, professional background in information, development, government, and the United Nations.
 
Since Clavite took office, a review of business operations, operational, organizational, financial, and administrative matters was conducted. In the course of the review, Clavite noted several erratic and inconsistent processes in many aspects of the work. Being the premiere public information arm of Government, it is necessary to improve and correct these systems to ensure efficient and effective delivery of services to its clientele— government agencies and the Filipino public.

In 2017, Clavite issued directives streamlining functions of Divisions and Sections which included movement of some personnel.  
In 2018, Clavite suspended the monthly provision of rice subsidy to employees, which had been the practice of the Agency for several years. Basis of such action was the strong recommendation of the COA resident auditor and the fact that there was no legal basis on this additional allowance. These changes caused emotional consequences from among employees.
 
An internet use and social media policy was also signed by Clavite prohibiting personal use of social media during office hours which was resisted by the PIA Employees Association accusing Clavite of curtailing freedom of expression and abuse of authority.
 
In 2018, Clavite issued a memorandum circular prohibiting officers and staff to receive “pasalubong” from regional and provincial offices every time they do field work.

In September 2018, Clavite organized an internal fact-finding committee (FFC) to look into possible irregularities in appropriations and funds disbursements. The FFC, an independent body composed of permanent personnel of PIA, looked into specific transactions related to charging of funds and transfer of funds from the central office to regional offices.

Based on a report submitted by the FFC, it was confirmed that there have been irregularities in financial transactions. The report was submitted by Clavite to COA, PCOO, and the Office of the President.
 
Due to these reforms and reaction from disgruntled personnel, some misunderstanding and animosity in the organization were developed thereby affecting the integrity of the institution.

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To remedy this, Clavite recommended in his letter to ES Medialdea the following actions:
 
1. As recommended by the FFC, erring personnel must be held accountable to ensure these acts are not repeated and to ensure the integrity of PIA is preserved. Along this line, the undersigned is in the process of filing administrative complaints against erring personnel in the Ombudsman and the Civil Service Commission;
 
2. All new policies shall be strictly adhered to especially those relating to financial management and cash flow and the PIA management is determined and committed to the proper execution of such policies;
 
3. The proposed PIA organizational restructuring must be given utmost priority and attention by the Office of the President to allow a more enhanced organizational set up including workforce planning, administrative, and operational management;
 
4. Mr. Benjamin Felipe, Director V, be removed from PIA or transferred to another Agency. At the same time, he must be disciplined and made accountable with his actions which violated several provisions of Republic Act 6713 of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Government Employees and Officials.

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