Philippine President Duterte is investigating and firing all individuals in public office positions who have been accused of and participated in extortion and feeding into government corruption. President Duterte’s axing of crooked individuals comes as no surprise for the current Philippine President promised to curb government corruption as part of his presidential campaign. Many of these corruption cases have come in early to mid-May 2018, during which, several officials were removed from their positions.
Most officials axed were already known but the identity of those yet to be axed remains confidential. Suspected individuals are in high-level departments within the Philippine Government such as the Department of Justice, PAGCOR, Public Works and Highways, the Department of Tourism, and many more officials from areas such as Airport Customs. President Duterte is even considering dismissing the entire Government Corporate Counsel, as per earlier made statements, not further elaborated on, by the President himself. In addition, Duterte stated, “I have fired and will tomorrow fire some more people”.
The hardest hit to Duterte on this corruption investigation comes from PAGCOR, where two gambling officials were involved in abusing their licensing power and granting foreigners 75-year franchise contracts, outside of PAGCOR’s jurisdiction. PAGCOR is an agency with the ability to provide gambling permits and these accused individuals were violating and abusing their free port powers by issuing too many gambling franchises. The officials attempted to explain to Duterte the reason behind their actions, however, President Duterte was immovable on his decision to fire the officials due to their obvious abuse of power and unwillingness to follow proper franchise gambling regulations. President Duterte publicly announced that he is not a fan of gambling and personally, would like to limit it. Therefore, his action against the officials exceeding their licensing issuance was rational.
Earlier, Duterte asked Assistant Secretaries Moslemen Macarambon Sr from the Department of Justice and Tingagun Umpa from the Department of Public Works and Highways to quit or face dismissal in consequence to their corruption scandals. Macarambon is accused of intervening on behalf of a gold and jewel smuggling suspect at Ninoy Aquino international airport by the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission. Umpa is accused of asking contractors from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao for a percentage of the projects they receive. One engineer Zenaida Tan, DPWH Region 10 director assisted the presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr with a two-page report detailing the requests for a percentage in exchange for better government contracts and quick project approvals, along with expenses paid for the hotel and airfare Umpa and his companions used.
Other individuals outed for corruption, extortion, and collusion were made known in early May. One former Department of Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo Teo resigned once state auditors reported a flag. The state auditors discovered a P60 million contract, or lack there-of official contract, that placed the Tourism Department’s Advertisements on her brother, Ben Tulfo’s, television program.
President Duterte also announced the official suspension of several government prosecutors. Since 2016, Duterte has taken every measure he can to curb corruption within government. It seems in 2018, his plan to rid the Philippine Government of its bloodsuckers has finally paid off. With the number of individuals being removed from their positions, it is clear that Duterte’s need for cleaning up was a necessary one. The President has made the point to say that public office has now become an opportunity for corrupt individuals to make money and that he will find every one of them and rid them of their positions.