February 21, 2018, 11:01 pm
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Unsolicited advice costs DDB chief his job

DIONISIO Santiago tendered his resignation as chairman of the Dangerous Drugs Board on Monday

Santiago, a retired AFP chief, yesterday said he was told by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to step down Monday following comments he made about the “mega” rehabilitation center government constructed in Nueva Ecija for drug users.

He said he did not mean to contradict President Duterte whose war against drugs has been the focus of his administration. Santiago said he merely gave an unsolicited constructive criticism.

“Mahirap ang trabaho ko (My job is not that simple), I was told to go. Sabi ko walang problema, don’t worry about me magkaibigan pa rin tayo (I said no problem, don’t worry about me, we’re still friends),” Santiago told GMA news.

“I was hurt because I served government for 44 years at hindi ito ang way out na ine-expect ko,” he added.

Santiago said he did not work last Monday and instead packed his things in his office.

News of his resignation spread earlier yesterday. Malacañang has yet to issue an official statement. Sources at the DDB confirmed Santiago resigned but could not say the reason. Some hinted it had something to do with a broadcast interview during which he said that the construction of a mega drug rehabilitation in Nueva Ecija was a mistake and the money for its construction should have been used for smaller community-based rehab centers.

In an interview with ABS-CBN network last week, Santiago said the building of the mega drug rehab was “impractical” as he said the money used for its construction could have been used instead to put up community-based drug rehabilitation centers.

He said a community-based drug rehab center is more aligned with Duterte’s reform agenda.

The mega drug rehab center was opened in November last year. It has a capacity of 10,000 drug patients but only around 400 patients are confined to date. It was inaugurated by President Duterte upon its completion last November.

The construction of the mega drug rehab was funded by Huang Rulun, a Chinese real estate billionaire. 

Santiago was appointed DDB chair last July. He ran for senator during the 2016 elections but lost.

Santiago was chief of the Armed Forces from November 2002 to April 2003. He served as chief of the Bureau of Corrections from 2003 to 2004.

He was named PDEA chief in 2006 and served until 2011.

He is a graduate of Philippine Military Academy Class of 1970.
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