President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night said he would refer to the Office of the Ombudsman information he received about some members of the House of Representatives who allegedly received kickbacks from project contractors.
In a taped speech, Duterte said he received a list of lawmakers who were allegedly involved in corruption in projects undertaken by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
He said the list was given to him by Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) Commissioner Greco Belgica.
However, he refused to investigate or name the lawmakers, saying he had no jurisdiction over members of a co-equal branch of government.
"I have no business investigating congressmen. They belong to a separate organ of government which is co-equal to the President," Duterte said.
In the same address, Duterte read aloud a list of Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) personnel who had been dismissed on allegations of corruption.
The officials face administrative complaints for grave misconduct, dishonesty, and malversation of public funds, in connection with alleged unremitted cash collections, extortion and other offenses, the President said.
“We’ve reached the BIR. I’ve told you there’s an ongoing purge in the government,” Duterte said.
Duterte’s spokesman said the President wasn’t trying to protect corrupt lawmakers who were allied with the administration, but simply did not have enough evidence against them.
“Because this is an issue of evidence, it is better for the Ombudsman to investigate because it has jurisdiction over all government workers,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.
Duterte said he decided not to name the congressmen, but denied he was covering up for them.
He said that even if he asked the Department of Justice to review the list of lawmakers, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra would also end up passing the cases on to the Ombudsman.
Since the start of his term in 2016, Duterte has been releasing "narco-lists" containing incumbent and former officials, lawmakers, judges, and uniformed personnel suspected of being involved in the illegal drug trade.
In his taped address, Duterte again offered a P10,000 reward for any information regarding corrupt practices in the processing of permits.
He added that permits should be done on the day of the application.
“If your permit took a month, two weeks, that’s really corruption,” he said in Filipino.
Duterte also said he would give P20,000 every month to any person who could monitor corrupt activities within departments, agencies, or offices.
On Nov. 10, Duterte offered a reward of P50,000 or P100,000 to anyone who could give him information on government officials engaged in corruption.
Duterte said he will continue to go after corrupt government officials and workers, saying about 800 people have already been dismissed due to illegal activities.