By Genalyn Kabiling
The country will have a “cleaner” and “better” Bureau of Customs (BoC) amid the ongoing purging of alleged corrupt personnel in the agency, President Duterte declared Monday.
At the mass oath-taking of newly appointed government officials in Malacañang, the President said he has fired 64 customs personnel and might remove 100 more.
“I just fired 64, but if I could get away with the 100 more I think we’ll have a cleaner, a better Customs, BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue),” he said in his remarks.
“Pero sigurado itong 64 talagang tatanggalin ko na and they have been there for 36, 38 years [But I will remove the 64 and they have been there for 36, 38 years],” he added.
The President claimed that ever since he was young, it has been known that many customs personnel live a lavish lifestyle, including having big houses and fancy cars.
“Maliit pa ang Davao noon ‘yung — sa subdivision namin ang magagandang bahay… Tatay ko governor, tatay niya provincial fiscal nung governor ang tatay ko. Pero ang magagandang bahay sa subdivision namin Customs, BIR [Davao was still small then. My father was governor, his father was a provincial fiscal but the beautiful houses in our subdivision were owned by those working in Customs, BIR],” he said.
“Makakita ka ng magandang kotse, Customs. May bagong mga model na magdating sa Davao noon, sila ang nauuna [You’d see beautiful cars owned by customs. They have the first crack at the new models coming into Davao],” he added.
Duterte said he was committed to fight corruption in government even though there were times he wanted to resign over the widespread problem. He claimed that the bureaucracy was “corrupt to the core.”
“Have you ever heard me say that gusto ko nang mag-resign kasi hindi ko mahabol ang [I wanted to resign because I cannot run after] corruption. I thought I could, but you know corruption has permeated government itself,” he said.
“Sinabi ko [I said] it’s corrupt to the core and it is right now. Mahirap tanggalin lahat [It’s difficult to complete stamp it all out], he said.
Last month, the President announced plans to dismiss 64 BOC officials and employees for alleged corruption. He later summoned them to the Palace, telling them that corruption has no place under his watch.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said administration charges over allegations of corrupt practices in office will be filed against the concerned customs personnel before the Office of the Ombudsman, unless they opt to resign, and the prosecutors will ask for their immediate suspension.
Panelo added the President told them that consistent with due process, they will be given their day in court.