President Rodrigo Duterte said Friday night that he had asked an entire administrative section of the Bureau of Customs who are allegedly involved in corrupt activities to remove water lilies in the Pasig River.
“From my office in Pasig, my barge cannot run smoothly because of water lilies. I will ask them to work on it,” he said during a thanksgiving day for overseas Filipino workers.
“Yesterday, I fired an entire administrative section of Customs. I fired all of them, 64 of them. I told them to report in Malacanang,” he said.
“Someone told me, ‘You really want to stop corruption? Remove them.’ So I fired them,” Duterte said.
“That Customs. I’m tired of it. I told them to get out. I just left Jagger,” Duterte said, referring to Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero.
Duterte previously aired his frustration over widespread corruption in the bureau and ordered the suspension of employees facing charges.
Duterte said the 64 Customs personnel were told to resign or face charges.
“It’s a simple case of―you resign or I file charges. And that goes for all of us. We are workers of government and we serve the people, period,” Duterte said.
“My view is that [they should] help me craft new implementing rules of how not to rob a country properly, so I will be asking them to report here,” he said.
In a statement Wednesday night, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said Duterte ordered the suspension of high-ranking officials and employees in the bureau as they faced charges.
He said the names of those officials and employees would be disclosed at “the appropriate time.”
Duterte’s latest action underscored his administration’s zero tolerance on corruption among erring officials, Panelo said in a statement.
“We continue to dismantle corruption in the bureaucracy and rid it of corrupt officials and employees,” Panelo said.
“The anti-corruption campaign is continuing as it is relentless. No one will be spared.”
In October 2018, Duterte said he would order military men to take over Customs to address the corruption there.
The Palace then said the rampant corruption in Customs could be considered a form of “lawless violence.”