‘Whiff of corruption’ gets Duterte’s goat

President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday warned his Cabinet officials that he would not hesitate to fire them for contributing to the government’s “shortcomings.”

In a speech in Negros Occidental, the President, who always reminds high-ranking government officials to veer away from even the “whiff of corruption,” said he can dismiss them if they bring trouble to his administration.

“I know the problem. The government has a lot of shortcomings. I’ll say this to you, frankly. I have ordered the dismissal of several Cabinet members. That is what you [government officials] have to watch out for,” Duterte said, without elaborating.

On Saturday, Malacañang announced that the President terminated retired Marine general Alexander Balutan as general manager of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office for allegations of corruption.

“The Palace confirms that President Duterte has terminated the services of PCSO general manager Alexander Balutan on his present post due to serious allegations of corruption,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

Panelo did not reveal much about Balutan’s offense but reiterated that Duterte will not allow those who violate the Constitution to lead the country.

“Good governance and public accountability are the twin hallmarks of the Duterte administration. These are the standards that those in the government must exercise at all times and with utmost responsibility and fidelity,” he said.

“Those who fail to observe the same will inexorably suffer the harsh and punitive consequences,” he added, hoping that Balutan’s termination will serve as a “stern warning” to all government officials and employees.

“The campaign against corruption, like the war on prohibited drugs, will be relentless and continuing until the last day of the President’s term,” Panelo said.

Balutan was not the only one who was axed this year. In early January 2019, the President sacked Bacolod City chief of police Francis Ebreo and four other police officers for their drug involvement.

In November last year, Duterte also fired three officials of the Department of Social Welfare and Development. The Palace said Undersecretary for Protective Operations and Programs Group Mae Ancheta-Templa, Undersecretary for Promotive Operations and Programs Group Maria Lourdes Turalde-Jarabe, and Undersecretary for Disaster Response Management Group Hope Hervilla have been terminated to give newly appointed Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista a chance to pick his own team.

A month before that, the President also sacked left-leaning official Labor Undersecretary Joel Maglunsod. Duterte, however, had a change of heart as he welcomed Maglunsod into his administration as the executive director of National Maritime Polytechnic.

The Palace had previously maintained that the President will have no sacred cows in his government.

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READ: Malacañang fires Balutan of PCSO for ‘corruption’

Topics: Rodrigo Duterte , Alexander Balutan , Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office , Salvador Panelo
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