2 Cabinet officials under probe for corruption – PACC

Marje Pelayo   •   August 14, 2019   •   273

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte presides over the 40th Cabinet Meeting at the Malacañan Palace on August 5, 2019. KING RODRIGUEZ/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – The Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) launched an investigation in February against two Cabinet officials of the Duterte government following complaints of corruption.

According to PACC Commissioner Greco Belgica, the two Cabinet officials are aware that they are under probe and even President Rodrigo Duterte has been informed of the ongoing investigation.

Belgica, however, refused to name the concerned Cabinet members before the press.

“Ang investigation kasi doesn’t mean they are already guilty, so it’s unfair to mention them and make it appear na they are corrupt,” he said.

The PACC official said they are about to conclude the probe afterwhich, they will submit the report to the President who will then decide on the fate of the two Cabinet officials.

Meanwhile, the PACC hopes that more Cabinet members will voluntarily submit themselves for lifestyle checking as part of the administration’s anti-corruption drive.

“That will be honorable on their part to do,” Belgica noted.

Among those who first submitted for lifestyle checking were Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade and newly installed Mindanao Development Authority Chief former Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol.

Based on PACC records, about 200 staff and officials from various government offices are now being investigated due to corruption complaints.

Among them are from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO); the Bureaus of Customs and Internal Revenue; the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH); the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR); and the Department of Transportation (DOTr). – MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

2 National Museum officials arrested for extortion

Maris Federez   •   August 20, 2019

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) have arrested two high-ranking officials of the National Museum.

The two were involved in extortion in exchange of permits issued by the agency, particularly on treasure hunting.

According to the PACC, the two officials had been extorting money from the complainant who has a pending application for treasure hunting permit at the agency.

The two were asking for P120,000 from the applicant for a permit that only costs P3,000.

“So pumunta sa amin iyong complainant then we set up this entrapment operations with the NBI.  Malaki hong halaga iyan for these permits dahil legal fees hindi naman aabot yan ng ganoon kalaki,” said PACC Commissioner Greco Belgica.

The two were identified as Ernesto Toribio Jr, chief of the National Museum Treasure Hunting Section, and Angel Toribio, acting Director and Curator II of the museum’s Cultural Properties Division.

The PACC believes that there is a possibility that extortion has already become rampant at the National Museum as there are no clear guidelines on the process of application permits such as in treasure hunting.

With this, the PACC is urging the National Museum administration to streamline its requirements for permit applications.

PACC will file bribery, extortion, and conspiracy against the two officials. (with details from Mai Bermudez) /mbmf

Malacañang leaves it to PAO Chief to decide on resigning amid corruption complaint

Marje Pelayo   •   August 15, 2019

Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) Chief Persida Acosta

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang is letting Atty. Persida Acosta to decide on whether or not to resign as Chief of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) following complaints of corruption.

PAO lawyers filed the complaint at the Office of the Ombudsman accusing the PAO Chief and forensics chief Erwin Erfe of corrupt practices in relation to the disbursements and allocation of the PAO budget.

Acosta and Erfe allegedly committed a ‘systematic scheme’ in diverting P13 million of the agency’s budget for office supplies for drafting Dengvaxia-related cases.

Presidential Spokesman Secretary Salvador Panelo, meanwhile, said that knowing President Rodrigo Duterte, his trust in his officials remains unless reports of irregularities are proven.

“Si President, hangga’t walang findings of probable cause, palaging andun ang trust (President (Duterte’s) trust on a person remains unless there is no finding of a probable cause),” Panelo said.

“Pero kung may probable cause na, ibang usapan iyon, then there will be suspension galing sa Ombudsman. Hindi naman teritoryo ni president iyon (But once a probable cause is established, that’s a different story. There will be suspension coming from the Ombudsman. It is no longer the President’s territory),” the Palace Spokesman concluded. – MNP (with details from Mai Bermudez)

Duterte to identify less than 10 officials behind alleged PCSO corruption – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   August 2, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte | PCOO

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is set to identify less than 10 officials allegedly involved in the “massive corruption” in the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), a Malacañang official said on Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the President mentioned this during a speech at the joint anniversary celebration of the National Security Council and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency on Wednesday night.

However, Panelo said the chief executive did not elaborate on the issue, adding that the public should just wait for further announcements.

This comes after Duterte ordered the immediate suspension of all PCSO gaming operations over the supposed corruption in the agency. More than 30,000 gaming outlets were shut down over the weekend following his order.

On Tuesday, the president lifted the halt of lotto operations but suspension on small-town lottery (STL), Keno and Peryahan ng Bayan operations remain until the investigation has been concluded.

Presidential Anti-Corruption Commissioner Greco Belgica, meanwhile, said investigation is underway on PCSO officials linked to corruption including the agency’s former general manager Alexander Balutan.

Belgica added that PCSO officials will also be subjected to lifestyle checks.

“No one (is) exempted, no one will be spared from the top down,” he said. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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