Duterte says corruption "real cancer" in Philippines, calls Customs "graft-ridden"
President Rodrigo Duterte has said the "real cancer" in the country are the corrupt people as he called the Bureau of Customs (BOC) as "graft-ridden" agency.
"The real cancer in our country are the people," he said in a speech during his visit at the Southern Philippines Medical Center Cancer Institute in Davao City on Thursday.
Duterte cited the alleged corruption at the BOC despite appointing former military mutineers because they were among those who sought for government reform due to intolerable corruption.
"Customs is graft-ridden. So I have these soldiers who mounted a mutiny during Arroyo’s time and the clarion call was reform because graft is no longer tolerable. So I appointed them there - so that is what you are complaining about, fine, ok - in sensitive positions which are prone to graft," he said.
BOC Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon and some of his men in the agency were former mutineers, along with Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, a staunch Duterte critic.
The BOC, including Faeldon, is being investigated separately by the Senate and the House of Representives due to alleged corruption following the entry and later confiscation of P6.4-billion worth of shabu in May this year.
During the probe, Duterte's eldest son, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, was dragged into the alleged bribery at the BOC. The younger Duterte denied any allegation.
"The sad thing is that, the name of my son, the Vice Mayor, has cropped up. Look, ladies and gentlemen, right at at the start during my inauguration, I made a solemn commitment to you, that if any one of my children, Inday, Polong or Baste would be involved in graft, I will step down as President of this Republic at once. And I’m repeating it today...what I say in public, I will do. Now, those are allegations, name-dropping," Duterte said.
He said the government has lots of money if only those tasked to collect revenues from imports and exports would not corrupt the fund. The BOC is the agency tasked to collect tariffs and taxes from importations and exportations.
"So, if it is like this, if I cannot hack it, if I cannot solve the problem, if my family would also be involved in corruption, I will quit. It becomes an honor because I said it during the very first days of my term...do not worry, I will honor the word, I give you my commitment again," he stressed.
Duterte said the Philippines is also corrupted by the elite, citing how the two major media organizations, the Philippine Daily Inquirer and ABS-CBN, allegedly pocketed money at the expense of the government and him.
He said Inquirer continued to collect rentals from the government property in Makati City even if the lease of contract expired.
In his previous speeches, he accused Inquirer of not only committing swindling but economic sabotage.
In the case of ABS-CBN, he said his camp placed a political ad during the campaign for the May 2016 elections. The network collected the money but it did not air the ad, Duterte said.
"That is how this country is corrupted by the elite," he said.
He also cited how corruption in government's bidding takes place. Thus, he asked that the government should not award a project to the lowest bidder, which usually has no capability to do the task. Celerina Monte/DMS