Duterte asks 2 assistant secretaries to resign

Move by Philippine president raises to 16 the number of government officials sacked due to corruption

Manila: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered two senior officials to leave their posts, bringing to 16 the number who have left office since 2016 over corruption, a senior official said.

Assistant Secretary Moslemen Macarambon of the Department of Justice and Assistant Secretary Tingagun Umpa of the department of public works were asked to resign, otherwise, they would be fired, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on Tuesday.

Macarambon allegedly intervened for gold and jewellery smugglers at Pasay City’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Umpa allegedly asked for commissions from contractors at the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in the southern Philippines.

“These were based on the investigations done by the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission,” Roque explained. He did not give details.

They preceded tourism secretary Wanda Teo who resigned on May 8 — she was criticised for using her influence when her brother Ben Tulfo won a P60 million (Dh5 million) advertisement project from her office.

Her resignation was accepted even if her brother Tulfo has decided to return the P60 million (Dh5 million) to the government.

Duterte has vowed to relentlessly clean the government of corruption.

Other government officials were sacked primarily because of “direct or indirect” involvement in illegal drug trade, a source told Gulf News.

In April 2018, former justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre resigned after he nullified complaints filed against four suspected drug lords. He was Duterte’s law school classmate and fraternity brother.

In May 2017, Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) Chairman Benjamin Reyes was axed for contradicting Duterte’s official number of drug addicts.

Earlier, when Duterte sat in office in mid-2016, several top-ranking police generals reshuffled and they eventually resigned because of their alleged involvement in illegal drug trade.

The real number of fired government officials that Duterte had fired could be higher because some of them were not publicly announced, sources said.

Last January 13, Duterte said a government agency, three military generals and 49 policemen will be axed because of corruption.

Details of this announcement have remained dim.

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