Department Secretaries “leaving” before the end of the term of the President that appointed them usually isn’t newsworthy or even noteworthy. However, in the case of acting DPWH Secretary Oging Mercado, it seems he was booted out of office right after the wash of controversies that started plaguing his appointment almost from day one.
No one would have known that Mercado was given the old heave-ho back to the boonies of Leyte long before the assumption of DPWH Secretary designate Manny Bonoan had not someone from deep within DPWH misrouted a memo from Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea appointing DPWH Senior Undersecretary Rafael C. Yabut as Officer In Charge on June 23.
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Word is that Mercado’s shenanigans and controversial dealings angered President Rodrigo Duterte, causing the old man to order his swift and immediate expulsion as acting DPWH secretary.
This is a whole seven days ahead of Secretary designate Bonoan’s first day in office, when he would be able to have full access to all of his department’s records — especially those pertaining to the transactions entered into by Acting Secretary Mercado.
Seven days is plenty of time for Mercado to hide or dispose of all the documents, which, according to sources, if put under proper scrutiny should compel a lengthy investigation not only by the Secretary designate but perhaps also the oversight committees in both houses of congress.
According to several published news reports and opinion articles Mercado was able to accrue all authority to approve projects, budgets and bid awards. The articles sources say that for 7 to 21 percent of the project cost, Mercado could guarantee that the project would be awarded to anyone who could bring him the money.
Word is that Mercado had counted on his Romualdez connections to assure that he would get designated or appointed by the Marcos Junior administration as the DPWH Secretary.
There might have been some manner of bounty sharing offered in exchange for staying as DPWH Secretary but as it turns out, this was unnecessary. As it turns out, the people he was counting on were merely humoring him and they had known that Mercador was on his way out.
Some sources close to the Marcoses were heard to have said that they found Mercado’s style repulsive and that this ran counter to what the incoming administration wanted to demonstrate within its first 100 days.
The last thing President elect Bongbong Marcos wanted was to have corruption allegations exploding before he could even sit in his dad’s former office.
In a sense, acting Secretary Oging Mercado’s face got slapped left and right or in local parlance, “nabigyan ng mag-asawang sampal sa mukha”.