Philippine President Benigno Aquino has fired nearly 1,000 officials appointed by his predecessor during the presidential election period, although he accepted the appointment of the Supreme Court Chief Justice in May.
Aquino signed an executive order last week revoking 977 "midnight appointments" made by former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo after March 10, two months before national elections, the government said on Wednesday.
"The sheer number of these appointments gives basis to the opinion or to the belief that they were made for the purpose of depriving the next president of the prerogative of making these appointments," Eduardo de Mesa, chief presidential legal counsel, told a news conference at Malacanang Palace.
"They were made contrary to principle that within the presidential election period, an outgoing administration must act only as a caretaker administration."
Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona kept his job, despite Aquino having strongly criticised the appointment when it was made soon after the May 10 election. At his inauguration, Aquino decided to take his oath of office from another judge.
Aquino's first executive order after taking office on June 30 was to declare about about 4,000 government positions vacant, removing non-career and contractual workers to get rid of people associated with the Arroyo government.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said most of the officials appointed by Arroyo who held Cabinet, deputy Cabinet and other executives of government agencies and corporations had been removed since the new government was inaugurated on June 30.
Further, some army generals who were closely associated with Arroyo have also been replaced and two had opted to retire early, including the chief of the 130,000-member military organisation and the head of intelligence service.
Philippines' Aquino fires Arroyo appointments
Philippine President Benigno Aquino has fired nearly 1,000 officials appointed by his predecessor during the presidential election period.