Duterte reveals he fired DENR officials 'due to corruption'

President Duterte said that he had fired several officials at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) because of their alleged involvement in corruption, particularly in reclamation projects in Manila.

President Duterte (Malacañang photo)

Duterte made the statement during a joint meeting of the National Task Force and Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-RTF-ELCAC) in Region VII in Lapu-Lapu City on March 31.

In his speech, the President said that he had appointed Acting Environment Secretary Jim Sampulna to the position following the resignation of Roy Cimatu-- who had resigned due to health reasons-- because he fired all the other officials in the agency.

"Itong sa iyong acting secretary ng DENR, it's because there were --- may dinismiss ako na Cabinet members and iyong ito 'yung (We have a new DENR acting secretary because I dismissed some Cabinet members and this is about the) reclamation projects in front of Manila," he said in Bisaya.

"I heard reports of corruption. So Secretary Sampulna is new because I fired them all," he added.

In his press briefing on Friday, April 1, Communications Undersecretary Kris Ablan denied that President Duterte was referring to Cimatu when the Chief Executive said he fired a Cabinet member.

He, however, assured the public to trust that the government would get to the bottom of the issue through the Office of the Ombudsman, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), and the Sandiganbayan.

"Dadaan naman po tayo sa tamang proseso kung meron po talagang proof na may corruption na nangyari (It will undergo ue process if there is proof of corruption)," Ablan said.

"So we have to trust our institutions, and we have to trust our processes," he added.

In his speech, President Duterte refused to identify the Environment officials he sacked due to alleged corruption.

"I won't name anybody because it's painful for them for this to have happened. But you know, whether you helped me during the elections or contributed something good, I am very thankful," he said.

Duterte said this issue led him to order Sampulna to "stop" all applications for reclamation across the country.

"I told the Acting Secretary to stop all of it. It's either we give it to them last minute for as long as it's honest and the legal requirements are completed , I might just you know --- but they'll do it, not me," he said.

"You review everything and if you think it's proper and legal, give it to them," he added.