Duterte orders freezing of several Customs officials, employees

Robie de Guzman   •   July 11, 2019   •   1271

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte holds a situation briefing with members of his Cabinet and local government officials to discuss disaster response measures in the aftermath of Tropical Depression (TD) ‘Usman’. at the Camarines Sur Watersports Complex (CWC) in Pili, Camarines Sur on January 4, 2019 ALFRED FRIAS/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the freezing of several high-ranking officials and employees of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) over corruption allegations.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said these officials are facing administrative and criminal charges for unlawful activities. Their names, he said would be disclosed “at the appropriate time.”

“The President’s latest action underscores this Administration’s zero tolerance on corruption among erring officials,” Panelo said in a statement released on Wednesday night (July 10).

“We continue to dismantle corruption in the bureaucracy and rid it of corrupt officials and employees… The anti-corruption campaign is continuing as it is relentless. No one will be spared,” he added.

Duterte’s order was issued days after he warned of firing several Customs officials who are accused of corruption. The president also bared he was mulling over another revamp in the BOC.

READ: Duterte mulls another Customs revamp

He also mentioned anew his earlier proposal of bringing the military into the BOC to address corruption allegations in the agency.

It can be recalled that in October 2018, the president said he is considering asking military men to take over the BOC due to the rampant corruption and drug smuggling activities.

Although there are reports that corruption and bribery still continue to thrive in the BOC, Malacañang said on Tuesday that Customs chief Rey Leonardo Guerrero still enjoys the trust and confidence of the president. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Ombudsman probes 119 BOC employees for various anomalies

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 20, 2019

The Office of the Ombudsman is currently investigating 119 Bureau of Customs (BOC) employees due to various anomalies.

These employees are currently in floating status, according to BOC Commissioner Leonardo Guerrero.

“Ang instruction kasi ni President (The instruction of the president) is for them not to hold any position or office. So in the meantime, we have to account for them and the only way to account for them is to make sure we implement organizational mechanism that would make sure that they report daily for us to be able to know where they are in case they will be summoned for investigation,” he said.

Twenty-seven BOC employees were given a show cause order for their alleged involvement in corruption while the Office of the Ombudsman ordered the dismissal of seven BOC executives.

Ombudsman Samuel Martires approved the dismissal of deputy collector for operations of the Manila International Container Port (MICP) Ramon Hernandez; Customs Operations Officer Lomonto Macabando; Customs Officers III Vanzandt Remonde and Vicente Gamboa; Customs Special Police assistant chief Jaybee Raul Cometa; BOC-Zamboanga Special Agent Oscar Farin and Customs security guard Renly Tiñana.

The administrative offenses committed by the officials include grave misconduct and gross neglect of duty.

One employee, meanwhile, was suspended due to gross insubordination.

Guerrero also admits the ‘Tara System’ in BOC still exists. He also said he still receives offers from various individuals.

“Ilang beses ko pa ba sasabihin na ako hindi ako tumatanggap, hindi ako tatanggap at never akong tumanggap (How many times do I have to tell you, I do not accept [bribes], have not accepted [bribes], and will never accept [bribes]),” he said.—AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Palace opposes Urban Dictionary definition of ‘Duterte’

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 20, 2019

The Malacañang refuted the Urban Dictionary for defining ‘Duterte’ as ‘to scam, trick, or con.

During a press briefing on Tuesday (Aug 20), Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo will seek to counter the definition on the website.

“‘Duterte’ to us means honest, incorruptible, politically-willed person, courageous, selfless, honest, transparent and all good things…and other synonymous terms,” Panelo said.

The definition was uploaded by an unknown internet user one month ago. Urban Dictionary is crowd-sourced online dictionary for slang words and phrases.

Panelo suspects, the uploader might be a member of anti-Duterte groups.—AAC

Palace: Duterte in good health, went motorcycle-riding over the weekend

Robie de Guzman   •   August 19, 2019

File: President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Monday assured that President Rodrigo Duterte is in good health despite being out of the public eye for more than a week now.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the statement amid concerns on Duterte’s health and absence in the past week.

He added that Duterte even went for a motorcycle ride in Davao City over the weekend.

“In fact, he shared to me yesterday, sabi nya, ‘Alam mo ba na I went out sa motorsiklo?’ Nag motorsiklo daw siya sa subdivision niya. Hindi ko na alam kung kahapon yun o the day before,” he said.

“It only shows na kung nakaka-motor siya, he’s in good health,” he added.

Duterte was last seen in public on August 9 when he attended a police event in Camp Crame in Quezon City.  

Panelo said that when not attending any public engagement, the chief executive deals with paperwork and private meetings.

“Ang sabi niya, marami siyang trabaho na mga papeles, binabasa niya isa-isa. Hindi siya makapirma ng hindi niya thoroughly reading these papers,” Panelo said.

“At the same time, meron siyang mga private meetings and courtesy call,” he added.

The president’s health has been a recurring issue given his age.

At 74, Duterte is the oldest to be elected Philippine president in history.

He previously revealed he was suffering from Barret’s esophagus or medically known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, as well as perpetual pain due to a spine injury and constipation. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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