President Rodrigo Duterte revealed the names of officials of the Bureau of Customs who were dismissed from service by the Ombudsman for neglect of duty and misconduct as he vowed to unmask those involved in corrupt activities every week during his scheduled address to the nation.
Duterte said he will focus on the Department of Public Works and Highways next week.
“I really intend to clean the government. If I cannot eradicate corruption, at least let me try to reduce it. Let it be a consolation for our people that we put these corrupt officials behind bars,” the President said Thursday evening.
“The DPWH will have the most number of officials to be dismissed because of corrupt activities, especially those involved in ghost projects. If I were you, I will resign now because I will throw the book at you and even the kitchen sink. This is not the time for condonation. Other sins will be forgiven, but not corruption, not ghost projects,” he added.
Among those he named who were dismissed by the Ombudsman are NAIA Customs operations officer Lomontod Macabando, deputy collector Ramon Hernandez, Raymund Cabigon, Gil Senen Gamil, Zamboanga district collector Lyceo Martinez, Lt. Filomeno Salazar, and Vicente Torres.
Duterte also disclosed that PhilHeath senior vice president chief information officer Jovita Aragona was among those placed under preventive suspension over the anomalies hounding the state insurer.
Meanwhile, Public Works Secretary Mark Villar said Thursday that his department will ask its employees to explain their involvement in 10 allegedly anomalous deals.
“So far we’ve already reviewed all the cases and we’re gonna issue show-cause orders to all those involved,” Villar told ANC’s Headstart public affairs program.
Villar would not offer any specifics but said they were looking at “around 10 cases simultaneously.”
Villar said the DPWH would also hold contractors accountable for their projects, noting that 25 of them have already been blacklisted.
Villar’s comments came as the Department of Justice’s Task Force Against Corruption said it was ready to receive complaints and reports of corruption from the public.
Justice Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay-Villar on Thursday said the TFAC’s operations center will use the existing DOJ Action Center to receive reports and complaints of corruption.
The DOJ Action Center can also be reached through its e-mail email@example.com as well as through its hotline 85212930.
Villar, the wife of the DPWH secretary, said complaints received by the operations center will be subject to evaluation by a committee, which then makes recommendation or referral of a vetted complaint for investigation.
“There will be a case evaluation committee who will do the screening of all information and complaints but the head of the evaluation committee has not been finally determined yet,” the DOJ spokesperson said.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the evaluation committee of the DOJ’s operations center will also determine and recommend if a certain report or complaint deserves the immediate constitution of a special composite team to begin an in-depth investigation.
Villar said the members of the task force’s operations center met on Wednesday “to identify its functions, namely to act as the secretariat, which receives information, complaints, and requests to investigate certain persons, acts or agencies.”
“If the information is already complete such that it would be enough basis to file a complaint, then it can be referred either to the prosecutor if it involves an official below salary grade 27 or to the Ombudsman if it is [salary grade] 27 and above,” she said.
In the House of Representatives, Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin G. Romualdez on Thursday recommended an initial list of anti-corruption bills to Speaker Lord Allan Velasco for possible inclusion in the House legislative agenda to boost President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign to clean up the government.
“We initially identified five anti-corruption measures and submitted these to Speaker Lord Allan Velasco for his consideration. Prioritizing the passage of these proposed laws can help boost President Rodrigo Duterte’s renewed efforts to curb graft and corruption in the government,” Romualdez, chairman of the House committee on rules, said.
The five measures are: Sorsogon Rep. Evelina Escudero’s House Bill (HB) 7230, which seeks to augment the financial resources of the Office of the Ombudsman by giving it a 30 percent share in any property forfeited in favor of the state; HBs 581 and 6003 which require the inclusion of anti-corruption and governance education in the basic education and higher education curriculum, respectively, Cavite Rep. Francis Abaya’s HB 967, which seeks to provide protection and benefits to persons who report corrupt officials and would serve as witnesses for their prosecution; and HB 579 which seeks to create the National Independent Commission Against Corruption (NICAC) as an attached agency of the Office of the Ombudsman, also filed by Villanueva and Rivera.
All measures have been pending at the committee level.