President Rodrigo Duterte has told several officials and employees of the Bureau of Customs they will face administrative charges before the Office of the Ombudsman on corruption allegations should they refused to resign from office, Malacañang said Friday.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the Chief Executive met with the group at the Palace Thursday night to discuss their supposed corrupt activities.
“Administrative charges over allegations of corrupt practices in office will be filed against them before the Office of the Ombudsman, unless they opt to resign, and the prosecutors will ask for their immediate suspension,” Panelo said.
“The President has been forthright in telling these Customs officials and employees that corruption has no place under his watch. He told them that consistent with due process, they will be given their day in court,” he added.
According to the spokesman, the President even “assured” the BOC personnel he would not begrudge them if they would avail of legal remedies to question their removal from office.
In fact, Duterte was “thankful” they accepted his invitation to meet him in Malacañang, something the President viewed as a sign of respect for him, Panelo said.
Meanwhile, pending the filing of cases against them, the spokesman said: “They shall be in floating status without authority to act on official matters.”
“Let this serve as a reminder to all those officials or employees in the government that they cannot escape liability or accountability for their acts of corruption under the Duterte administration,” he added.
The meeting was held a week after Duterte announced that he would terminate 64 BOC personnel due to corruption allegations.
Aside from Panelo, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission chief Dante Jimenez, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, whose department oversees the BOC, attended the meeting.
For his part, Andanar said the Chief Executive only “lectured” the BOC officials, telling them they should not harbor “hard feelings.”
“Last night, I was at the meeting with the President and around 41 Bureau of Customs officials. There, the President directly told [it to] them. Actually, it wasn’t scolding, he wasn’t mad. He talked with them and gave a little lecture,” the PCOO chief told Radyo Singko.
“I just don’t know if there was a dialogue afterward,” he added.
Last week, Duterte revealed he removed the entire administrative section in the corruption-plagued agency as he was already fed up with their supposed illegal activities.
“I’m really angry with corruption. You may commit a sin but it should not be corruption because I will really not forgive you,” the President said.
“All that I ask is that you avoid corruption. They said corruption can’t be stopped in Customs. I was fed up, so I said, ‘If these sons of b****s won’t stop, you’re all fired,” he added, telling the relieved Customs employees to clean up the water lilies floating along the Pasig River.
Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero, a former Army chief, currently heads the BOC. Duterte said he wanted a military man to take over the helm of the bureau after billions of pesos worth of illegal drugs previously slipped past its watch.
The Chief Executive admitted last year it would take him more than a decade to probe every single personnel in the bureau for links to corruption.
The Palace, meanwhile, has always maintained that Duterte remains consistent in his position not to tolerate even a “whiff of corruption” in the administration.