MANILA, Philippines — Embattled former Dangerous Drugs Board chair Dionisio Santiago on Tuesday belied the allegations being hurled against him based on a supposed letter from the DDB employees’ union, which was later proved to be fake.
Below are Santiago’s point-by-point refutations of the allegations during his interview with News5’s Maricel Halili on Tuesday, November 21, as he denied that his trips to the U.S. and Austria were just junkets.
1. Santiago brought with him his coffee server at the DDB to Vienna, Austria
Answer: Not True. Edith Julie Mendoza, who used to be only known to Santiago as “Edong,” is not a coffee server at the DDB.
She is a psychologist, who has been working for the board for the last 35 years, and the wife of a former Shell executive. It was not Dionisio who decided for Mendoza to accompany him to Austria but the board’s management.
In his own words:
No’ng chairman nga ako, nagreklamo nga ako, ‘yang mga taong ‘yan hindi ako ang pumili, they are in my office, inabutan ko na ‘yan d’yan, pinagtatalunan ‘yan, may inside story ‘yan.
Kilala ko na dati ‘yan. At ang pangalan nya Judith pala, ang alam namin si Edong yan…35 years ‘yan, expert na ‘yan , she is a psychologist…Ang nagbigay d’yan sa kanila sa akin, ‘yong management ng DDB na kasama ko.
Tsaka hindi taga timpla ng kape. You go to DDB, maski kayo pumunta, hindi nagsisilbi ng kape ‘yan, ang asawa n’yan, dating executive ng Shell.
Pumunta ka ‘ron, magtitimpla ng kape or whatever na hihingin mo, si Milo, ‘yan ang cook.
2. Santiago also brought his family with him in his trip to Vienna
Answer: True. His family joined Santiago in his trip but public funds were not utilized for their travel and lodging expenses.
Santiago said his wife — whom he gave P112,000 of his net P142,000 salary monthly when he was DDB chair — paid for her own airfare worth P76,000.
Meanwhile, one of his children, who joined him in his trip, has been working for Delta Airlines, a major U.S, airline, for the last two decades, and has free business class flights.
Dionisio’s child went with the ex-DDB chair’s grandchildren to Austria via a “rendezvous” from Bonn, Germany where they hired a van and traveled for six hours to get to Vienna.
He said that while his family stayed with him in a hotel in Vienna, they paid for their lodging expenses.
The former DDB chief said his family could afford the expenses because his child earns $33 per hour at Delta, while his grandchild works as a computer programmer at Google and has an hourly rate of $100.
In his own words:
(T)alagang galing sa gobyerno ang pera pero sweldo ko ‘yon, sweldo ko sa DDB. Two hundred thousand ang sweldo ng secretary minus tax, may balance akong P142 (thousand); P112 (thousand) goes to my wife, para pampamilya, P30 thousand, ‘yon ang aking panggastos.
(Y)ong binayad ng misis ko kanyang ticket P76,000 out of the P112 (thousand). Tapos ‘yong anak ko na nag-join sa akin, 20 years na sa Delta Airlines ‘yan…kaya pati s’ya, may libreng business class kami kung gagamitin namin ang Delta.
Yong anak ko…nag-rendezvous sa amin. They went to Germany, the whole family. Pagkatapos nag-hire ng van from Bonn, nagbyahe ng six hours to Vienna.
Tapos nakitira sila sa amin pero ang usapan, ang role doon ‘yong bawat gagamitin mong extra people, you pay just $78 per night…Ang apo ko, nakasama do’n, the whole family ‘yon, lima sila. Ang anak ko $33 per hour sa Delta. ‘Yong apo ko pag graduate, kinuha ng Google as programmer, is earning $100 per hour.
Di ba naman kakayanin ng apo ko na saluhin ‘yong gastos ng parents n’ya?
Gastos ng gobyerno, ‘yong sa akin because I’m the official delegate.
3. It was Santiago who decided to bring his mistress and favorite DDB employees to the U.S. for a U.N. meeting
Answer: Not true. It was the travel committee of the Presidential Drug Enforcement Agency when he was its chief that chose his companions to attend a U.N. meeting on combating illegal drugs.
Santiago said his companions were subject matter experts and not one of them was his mistress.
In his own words:
Official travel ‘yan, covered by official travel order. Pagkatapos, ‘yong sinasabing junket, alam mo ‘yong kasama ko, deretsuhin na natin, pati girlfriend, eh yung mistress na sinasabi, hindi naman ako namili ng kasama ko sa US.
Mayro’ng travel committee ang PDEA, sila namimili…ng sasama sa ‘kin. May expertise required…May mga subject matter ‘yan eh. So you need subject matter experts.
‘Yong current executive director ngayon, sila ang nagsuggest na ‘yon ang isama, coming from the head of preventive education. So hindi ko sila mistress.
4. Santiago accepted favors from slain Ozamiz City mayor and alleged drug trader Reynaldo Parojinog, including a mansion when he was PDEA chief
Answer: Not true, there were neither favors nor a mansion, adding that another Santiago, allegedly a police officer, is Ozamiz Vice Mayor Nova Princess Parojinog’s boyfriend and not him.
In his own words:
Naku, eh ni hindi ko kilala si Nova eh, may boyfriend ‘yan, hindi ako, Santiago rin ang apelido, pulis…Hindi naman ko pulis. Tanungin n’yo na lang sila, mag-imbestiga kayo ng kaunti.
May naghahanap pa ng titulo ng lupa, hindi akin ‘yon…Mas pogi ako do’n sa Santiago na ‘yon.
On Tuesday, a day after disclosing the contents of the letter against Santiago, which was later disowned by the DDB employees’ union, and claiming that the allegations in the letter were among the reasons why Santiago was asked to quit his post, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque apparently made a turnaround, saying Santiago was not axed because of the letter complaint.
“Hindi po siya tinanggal dahil doon sa letter complaint. Inilabas po ang letter complaint upang ipakita lamang na bagama’t ang dahilan ay dahil doon sa mga sinabi sa mega rehab facility, eh meron na ring complaint laban kay General Santiago,” Roque said at a press briefing at the Palace.”
[He was not removed from his post because of the letter complaint. The letter complaint came out to show that while the reason(for his termination) was because of what he said about the mega rehab drug facility, there is also a complaint agains General Santiago.]
“Hindi po namin sinabi na katotohanan ang lahat ng sinabi ng complaint [We didn’t say that everything that was said in the complaint was true],” he added.