PRESIDENT Duterte has appointed former Negros congressman Jacinto Paras, who was tagged in a phone-snatching incident last year, and National Parks Development Committee (NDPC) executive director Penelope Belmonte, who had hogged the headlines for alleged “irregular expenses,” including those incurred for a hunt abroad for an orchid to be named “Duterte,” to government posts.
Paras was appointed as presidential legislative assistant at the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) while Belmonte was named deputy director of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC).
Their appointment papers were signed last January 8.
Paras, before his latest appointment, was first appointed by Duterte as undersecretary at the Department of Labor and Employment.
In March 2018, Paras was accused by then Akbayan partylist Rep. Tom Villarin of theft after the former allegedly took the latter’s mobile phone during a congressional hearing. Paras denied the allegation and branded the charge it as incredible, malicious and tainted with political color.
Belmonte was questioned by the Commission on Audit for allegedly spending P7.5 million in “excessive, irregular and unsupported expenditures” in 2017.
Among the expenses questioned by COA were P890,000 for uniform and clothing allowance for NPDC personnel, a P3.7 million payment for artists that performed at the “Concert at the Park,” “Paco Park Presents,” “Labs Kita Sabado” and other events of the agency, and P380,000 in travel expenses to Singapore, Russia and China that reportedly included a study tour to acquire an orchid that would be named after the President.
Other personalities included in the December 2018 to January 2020 list of appointees of President Duterte were former justice undersecretary Fidel Exconde Jr. as commissioner of the Human Settlements Adjudication Commission; Kenneth Yap as Special Trade Representative of the Philippine to Foreign Trade Service Corps.; Romulo De La Rosa as member of the Board Of Directors of the Bataan Shipyard and Engineering Company; and Leandro Conti as chairperson of the Board of Mechanical Engineering under the Professional Regulation Commission.
Also appointed were Dino Mae Suelto, member of the Philippine Domestic Construction Board; Ida Patron, commissioner of the National Commission on Senior Citizen; Ali Sanki, member of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority; Faustino Ignacio, member of the Board of Directors of the DBP Data Center, Inc.; and Celestino Salinas, member of the board of Trustees of the Land Bank Countryside Development Foundation, Inc.