INTERIOR and Local Government Undersecretary Martin Diño came under fire from netizens after seeing him on social media post wearing a Coast Guard Rear Admiral uniform.
Diño, who according to the Coast Guard is not a member of its official support group, may also face charges of usurpation of authority for improper wearing of the organization’s rank and uniform.
The Coast Guard issued the statement after netizens called out Diño for wearing a uniform for a Rear Admiral of its Auxiliary Group, the volunteer arm organization of the Philippine Coast Guard.
The agency addressed several inquiries from the netizens over a picture posted in social media sites.
It stated that “records from the PCG Auxiliary membership committee disclosed that Usec. Diño is not a legitimate member of the organization and hence not entitled to wear the PCGA uniform.”
“The PCG under Republic Act 9993 (PCG Law of 2010) has the sole responsibility and authority over the PCG Auxiliary membership and activities. The PCG has the right to file formal complaint for usurpation of authority and other criminal laws that may be violated by the improper wearing of the organization’s rank and uniform.”
At press time, the Coast Guard was coordinating with the office of Diño who, it added, might have been misled and recruited by bogus Auxiliary organization known for collecting money from its recruits.
The agency is also looking into reports that a certain Admiral Winefredo Villanueva from Manila Yacht Club was behind this scheme.
Diño on Saturday posted his photo on Facebook where he was wearing the uniform.
In an interview with ABS-CBN News, Villanueva introduced himself as Admiral Fred Villanueva of the 101st Manila Yacht Club Squadron. He said his group was the first PCGA organized in the country.
He added his group was established on March 10, 1973 and was not a bogus organization.
Villanueva said about eight years ago, documents of the 101st MYC Squadron were “stolen” by the current PCGA National Director Valentin Prieto, who he said was a former member of their group.
“They stole it and they organized Cultural Center of 101. This is a personal matter because they were kicked out of the Manila Yacht Club as members,” he said.
“The Coast Guard then recognized the group [of Prieto] and that is why we are planning to file a case because of what they did to us.”
Villanueva confirmed he was the one who inducted Diño to the 101st Squadron on the evening of January 25 this year.
He said they only kept quiet for years because they did not want to “stoop down to the level” of Prieto’s group.
But now that the issue is publicized, they will file cases against the PCGA and the PCG.
Over GMA News, Diño claimed he was installed as a Real Admiral of the group earlier this year.
“On January 25, Thursday, 7 o’clock at the Manila Yacht Club, I was installed as a Rear Admiral. They told me that’s my post,” he said.
“He [Villanueva] was the one leading 101 Manila Yacht Club Squadron. If there is a problem, they should be the one under attack, not me.”
Diño said he was recruited by one of the members of the Manila Squadron and installed as a Commodore in 2015. He added he was still working for the Subic Bay Development Metropolitan Authority then.
He said the Manila Squadron was one of the first PCG Auxiliaries in the Philippines, and was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Diño also denied collecting money from recruits and said he was only doing his job to encourage village watchmen to work for the Coast Guard in times of need, and to be prepared in the event a magnitude 7.2 tremor hit Metro Manila.
In the same interview, Diño also responded to those who criticized him for wearing the uniform.
During the May 2016 presidential elections, Diño, a member of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, filed a certificate of candidacy for president under the Partido Demokratiko ng Pilipinas - Lakas ng Bayan.
But he later canceled his certificate of candidacy and named then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo as his replacement, saying he decided to withdraw his candidacy after the legal deparment of the Commission on Elections recommended to the commission en banc to declare him as nuisance candidate.
Under the Omnibus Election Code, a nuisance is someone who files his candidacy to put the election process in mockery or disrepute, one who causes confusion among the voters by the similarity of the names of the registered candidates, and one who, based on demonstrable circumstances or acts, has no bona fide intention to run for office.
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