Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed newly retired Philippine Air Force chief Lieutenant General Rozzano Briguez to head state-owned Philippine National Oil Company Exploration Corporation (PNOC EC).

“Now is as good as any other time to tell you that from here, he will be heading an office, a critical one. I fired [former chief executive Pedro Aquino Jr] — for corruption — and he’s going to head the exploration division of the Philippine National Oil Company,” Duterte was quoted by ABS-CNN News.

Briguez replaces Aquino, who was sacked by Duterte last October following a deal agreed with Russia’s Rosneft, which did not follow approval regulations.

Aquino was ousted after he approved a memorandum of understanding with Rosneft to collaborate on businesses including oil trading and refining, without obtaining prior approval from PNOC EC’s board or Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.

However, Aquino’s stance remains that he resigned from the helm of the national upstream company at the president’s request.

Aquino had earlier been hit with a 30-day suspension because of the unauthorised MoU signed with Rosneft — a transaction that Duterte described as “idiotic”.

“The proposal was good but the [proper] stages of bidding and vetting were not followed,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier said in a statement translated from Tagalog.

"Any agreement that will be executed or performed... shall undergo the proper domestic processes and comply with applicable laws and pertinent rules and regulations so as not to leave any room for corruption or irregularity," said Panelo.