Palace delays naming gov't official to be fired

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 3) — The Palace has deferred naming the high ranking government official President Rodrigo Duterte wants fired.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said he was ordered to hold the announcement a few hours before the scheduled media briefing Wednesday morning.

"No reason cited other than please hold in abeyance the announcement," Roque told reporters. He earlier said the big announcement will happen Wednesday.  

He added he was not even sure if the dismissal would push through.

"Like all presidential appointees, he's being sacked - or I do not know if he's still going to be sacked - because of loss of trust and confidence," he said.

Roque said the President is reviewing the charter of the concerned agency.

"I will concede this much na I know that there was a legal written document already being prepared. But I guess even that is held in abeyance," he said.

Not PCSO chair

Roque also said the official was not from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

"I can make the confirmation that the official who I was tasked to announce and belatedly told to hold in abeyance is not from the PCSO," he said.

His statement douses speculation that Duterte will sack PCSO Chairperson Alexander Balutan, accused by newly appointed board member Sandra Cam of approving a P6-million Christmas party for his office.

Roque said the President "holds in high esteem" both officials despite their exchange of tirades.

He refused to answer whether the mysterious government official in danger of losing his post is Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) Administrator Marcial Quirico Amaro III.

Amaro is accused of embarking on junkets abroad, the same reason cited by Duterte for firing all commissioners of the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP).

The President on Wednesday issued a memorandum order regulating government officials' foreign trips.

Dangerous Drugs Board Chief Dionisio Santiago was also asked to resign in November due to allegations he spent government money on junkets abroad.

PCUP officials and Santiago have since denied allegations.

Duterte earlier sacked National Irrigation Administration Chief Peter Laviña and Interior Secretary Mike Sueno over irregularity and corruption allegations.

CNN Philippines' Ina Andolong contributed to this report.