Cielo Magno’s exit: A closer look at Facebook post that sparked her DOF departure

September 8, 2023 - 1:38 PM
A photo of Cielo Magno, former undersecretary at the Department of Finance (PhilippineEITI/Facebook)

A Department of Finance official was eased out of her position due to social media posts perceived to oppose the policies of the government.

Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin said this in a statement confirming the resignation of DOF Undersecretary Cielo Magno on Friday, September 8.

Earlier reports said that Magno resigned from her post on Thursday.

Bersamin said that this move was “expected,” citing Magno’s views expressed on her social media accounts.

“She has been against the policies of the administration and made it known to the public on social media long before the President even assumed office,” the executive secretary said.

Bersamin further stated: “Instead of working with colleagues in the government to address any concerns, they were instead constantly done so through public fora. The termination of her appointment could only be expected as she clearly does not support the administration and its programs for nation-building.”

According to Bersamin, the current administration cannot work with anyone who “was clearly set on maligning it to begin with.”

“While we support anyone’s right to free speech, it would be counterintuitive to have someone be part of the administration who was clearly set on maligning it to begin with. We wish her all the best in her future endeavors moving forward,” he said.

This statement was posted on the Facebook account of the Presidential Communications Office.

Magno served as DOF’s Undersecretary for the Fiscal Policy Monitoring Group from August 2022 until her recent resignation.

Prior to this, she was an assistant professor at the University of the Philippines School of Economics (UPSE).

A look at the post in question

On September 1, Magno posted a photo of a supply-demand graph on her Facebook account after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. ordered a price cap for regular milled rice.

Marcos is also the current Agriculture Chief.

READ: DTI: Rice price cap may last for a month 

Under Executive Order 39, which is to take effect nationwide, the maximum price is P41 for regular-milled rice per kilogram and P45 for well-milled rice per kilogram.

Economists said that price caps would hurt both farmers and consumers instead of helping them.

After Marcos issued the EO, Magno made a cryptic post showing a graph of the economics concept of supply and demand being taught in economics classes.

Based on the graph, an increase in supply drives prices downward. If demand exceeds supply, however, prices of goods will soar.

“I miss teaching,” she wrote in the post with an emoji of a female teacher.

On September 6, Magno shared another post about her return to the academe.

“A wise man told me, if you do your job with integrity, you will be back in UPSE soon,” she said.

Magno shared her plan to return to teach at UPSE in an earlier interview with ABS-CBN News.

“I was grateful for the opportunity to serve the Filipino people, but I think the academe will give me the flexibility I need to advocate for good policies,” she was quoted in a report as saying.

Criticisms vs Bersamin

Several Filipinos, meanwhile, perceived Bersamina’s statement as “petty” and unbecoming for a public official.

“Why comment? This sounds so petty. This only reinforces the idea that this government will only accept ideas and give power to diehards, instead of being a unifying force across political lines,” transport advocate Robert Siy posted.

“Malacañang says every government official’s job is to agree with the President,” sociologist Ash Presto also commented.

“Also, bad optics to the Executive Secretary and the Palace. Pwede namang walang sabihin amd let her freely speak. Talaga itong gobyernong ito,” statistician Peter Cayton wrote.

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