Duterte: Many corrupt officials to lose jobs

Christina Mendez, Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Duterte: Many corrupt officials to lose jobs
The President issued the warning during a meeting at Malacañang with his officials on the impact of Typhoon Rolly.
KJ Rosales, File

MANILA, Philippines — Expect a wave of dismissals, suspensions and even prosecutions to swamp the bureaucracy next month, President Duterte said on Monday as the government’s re-energized anti-corruption campaign goes into full swing.

The President issued the warning during a meeting at Malacañang with his officials on the impact of Typhoon Rolly.

“The next round will be by December. Many will lose their jobs. Many will be separated from the government. Many will face prosecution and many will go to jail,” Duterte said.

At the meeting, he presented a list of 60 officials from the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHhealth) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) who were either suspended or dismissed for involvement in corruption.

“Marami ito. Dagdagan ko pa yan (There are many of them. I will add more),” Duterte said.

He named about 40 immigration personnel being investigated for alleged corruption.

He said in the BOC alone, 20 personnel have been dismissed, four suspended, 135 being investigated and 45 charged with administrative cases.

“I will dedicate the last two years to the fight against corruption,” the President said.

“We have been transparent...you said it, but that’s good that all declared: ‘We have funds in our department.’ For as long as we spend it for the purpose for which it is intended to be appropriated,” he said after Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado identified agencies that can tap their own emergency funds.

Duterte said the people would only be suspicious of government if they realize taxpayers’ money is being embezzled.

Before reading the list of PhilHealth and Customs officials being probed for alleged corruption either by the Office of the Ombudsman or other agencies, Duterte reiterated his trust and confidence in Public Works Sec. Mark Villar.

Duterte has ordered the creation of a mega task force to probe corruption in government agencies, with the DPWH, BOC and PhilHealth named as the most corrupt agencies.

“Secretary Villar is an honest man. Not only that he is honest, he has money. He already has money, and I do not question his integrity or loyalty,” he said.

“If not, why is he still part of my Cabinet? Meaning to say that I need him. I need his expertise, his talent. Corruption, this is prevalent regardless of whose administration,” he said.

“Long before these people came, (corruption) was already endemic…It’s been there,” he said in Filipino. “Naka-capsulize na ang corruption.”

While admitting that he may have preferred some allies for certain posts in the government, he stressed it does not mean he would tolerate corruption.

“I’ve been hearing so many stories about corruption sa PhilHealth. Now this came out from the ombudsman. They are suspended for six months,” he said.

Duterte went on naming in public the people being investigated, including 13 from PhilHealth. The Cabinet briefing was beamed nationwide via government-run TV stations, hooked to private radio and TV stations.

“They are being investigated and if there’s enough evidence, they will be prosecuted in court. And eventually they will land in jail. And that could be a problem not only for the family and everybody,” he said.

“But as my sworn duty, itong mga tao na ito, mga kilala ko ’yung iba (some of them I know personally), understand that I have a duty to perform and that is to inform the public lalo na itong (especially) PhilHeatlh,” the President said.

He cited a case of a regular BOC employee who was also a board member of the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).

“I really don’t understand this stupidity. So brazen; as if they think they’re dealing only with brainless people,” he said in Filipino.

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