By Genalyn Kabiling
As part of his housecleaning campaign, President Duterte has fired Government Corporate Counsel Rudolf Philip Jurado for allegedly allowing Aurora Pacific Economic Zone (APEC) to grant gambling permits outside the free port area.
At the signing of a law on ease of doing business in Malacañang, the President lashed out at Jurado for his wrong interpretation of the APECO charter, insisting the free port entity had no authority like the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
“May I call the Government Corporate Counsel now. Are you in this…? Nandito ka? Kasi kung nandito ka lumabas ka, p***** i** mo. You are fired,” the President said in his speech.
“I do not need you and maybe you do not need me,” he added.
Duterte explained that APECO has been given a franchise on economic zone operations, including a provision on gambling permits, but such authority was limited within its area.
“When you are granted a franchise to conduct gambling in a certain facility, it does not include farming out that franchise to other cities and provinces kasi pagka ganun then you can ramble on following your theory, you can ramble on to give permits beyond the shores of Luzon and you can do it in Siasi, Jolo,” he said.
“Kung hindi ka pa naman gago. So you are just like a PAGCOR operating an independent entity with the same powers na you grant everything. Kung hindi ka tarantado p**,” Duterte said, referring to the government counsel.
Duterte admitted that he does not like gambling, citing a “ very bad experience” when he was young.
Lawyers from Office of the Government Corporate Counsel earlier reportedly informed the President about Jurado’s alleged corruption and incompetence when he issued a legal opinion allowing APEC to approve gambling permits outside its area and approve a 75-year permit to a casino.
Jurado however reportedly defended that under APECO charter, it was allowed to operate outside the economic zone as long as it is within a Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA)-controlled area. He has denied however about issuing a 75-year casino permit.
In his remarks, the President expressed dismay with the corruption in the bureaucracy as he vowed to continue to weed out erring public servants.
“I have been trying to be patient with everybody. But there are always that opportunity to interpret a law or insist in your stupid proposition until the problem gets out of hand,” he said.
“Everyday I have been firing an undersecretary, a secretary, now I am firing the Government Corporate Counsel himself,” he said.
Duterte said he could easily find a new government corporate counsel given the many competent lawyers in the country.
“Alam mo sa totoo lang maraming abogado diyan naghihintay sa labas. There are thousands of lawyers there waiting for an appropriate opportunity to work in government,” he said.
“Hindi na ako kailangan magtanong. All I have to do is just look around,” he added.
Jurado, former lawyer of an anti-crime and -corruption advocacy group, was appointed to head the OGCC last April 2017.
The President first announced plans to dismiss the government counsel over corruption allegation last week.