Two Cabinet men tagged

Anti-corruption body probes 200 officials,15 in PCSO

Two Cabinet secretaries are being investigated for their alleged involvement in corrupt activities while at least 200 officials and personnel from various agencies, including 15 former and current officials of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, are being subjected to a lifestyle check, Presidential Anti-Corruption Commissioner Greco Belgica said Wednesday.

Belgica said the investigation of the two Cabinet officials, whom he declined to name, started in February and is expected to be completed in October.

“There’s a complaint so we are duty-bound to investigate,” he said during a Palace press briefing.

PACC is also conducting a lifestyle check of close to 200 officials from the Bureau of Customs, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Department of Public Works and Highways, and Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Former PCSO general manager Alexander Balutan and ex-board member Sandra Cam, who resigned from their posts because of corruption issues hounding the agency, were also included in the PACC lifestyle check, Belgica said.

“My estimate is at least 200 [employees],” Belgica said.

He said Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade had voluntarily asked the PACC to investigate himself and his employees to ensure there is no corruption in his department.

Belgica said they would finish the lifestyle check this year.

He also urged other government officials to subject themselves voluntarily to a lifestyle check.

Belgica said the two Cabinet officials have been accused of violating Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act based on the complaints filed.

“The investigation cannot be revealed to the public,” Belgica said, saying the officials were innocent until they were proven guilty.

Belgica said one of the complaints was filed by an official from the Cabinet secretary’s department while the other was submitted by a private citizen.

The two Cabinet members, Belgica added, have been cooperating with PACC investigators.

President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly said he would not tolerate even a “whiff” of corruption from any government employee.

“It will be finished soon and will be submitted to the President and the Ombudsman. Whatever the President says, we will follow,” Belgica said.

Duterte will not interfere with the work of the PACC, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said.

“When the investigation is done, that’s the time he will decide on its recommendation,” Panelo said.

“That’s the job of the PACC. We will await its final report and recommendation on the matter,” he said.

Among those who were included in the PCSO lifestyle checks were the 10 officials tagged by Duterte for alleged corruption. Duterte previously said he will name those officials “in due time.”

Last week, General Manager Royima Garma submitted to the PACC the Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth of the 15 officials under investigation, Belgica said.

Belgica also said he would issue a memorandum to Cam to substantiate her claims of corruption in the agency.

“She will be allowed to submit the evidence to us, to the President, to the Ombudsman and we will welcome that. She was the first one to call out corruption in PCSO,” Belgica said.

“We are interested to hear what she has to say to us, not to take it as the truth, but to investigate and allow it to go ­ through the process,” he added.

On July 26, Duterte ordered to halt all gaming operations of the PCSO, citing “massive corruption.”

The suspension of lotto was lifted four days later, but the operations of other games remain suspended pending the investigation.

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Topics: Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission , Greco Belgica , Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office , Alexander Balutan
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