By Azer Parrocha
MANILA — Although keen on dismissing over 60 Bureau of Customs (BOC) employees allegedly involved in corruption, President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday night said he will still give them a chance to explain in a meeting in Malacañang next week.
Duterte bared this, a day after he ordered the “freezing” of Customs officials and employees but did not disclose their names.
“Dito, dito ko sila pina-report Monday. (I am asking them to report here on Monday, July 15),” Duterte told reporters after the signing of loan agreement for the Malolos-Clark Railway Project in Malacañan Palace.
“I will relieve them of their duties. As yet, they are not ousted or dismissed because of their right to be heard. But ipinatanggal ko na sila sa trabaho nila ngayon (I already removed them from their jobs) to prevent further damage sa (to) government interest,” he added.
Duterte clarified that he will be firing BOC employees and not officials as earlier mentioned.
“Let me correct you. I’m talking about a number of employees sa (at) Customs,” Duterte said.
Asked to further clarify, Duterte said he will be firing “those who are facing charges and those who are or who have been implicated in the shenanigans.”
While Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier said Duterte will be dismissing 50 to 70 BOC personnel, Duterte also clarified in a speech that he will be firing a total of 64 employees from the agency.
“Most of them, yung nandiyan na (those who are already there), we will be filing charges, 64 of them,” Duterte said in his speech.
“So at this early, they might be also learning what’s going on here and they are also hearing us. It’s a simple case of ‘you resign or I file charges’ and that goes for all of us. We are workers of government and we serve the people, period,” he added.
Up to Ombudsman to file charges
Duterte said the implicated personnel may be players involved in a shipment done within the agency.
“Yes, those who are facing charges must be connected in connection to a shipment. Those who are the players. Well, they have to go,” Duterte said.
Asked if these BOC personnel were involved in any shabu shipment, in particular, Duterte said: “Hindi masyado (Not so much).”
Duterte, meanwhile, said he will leave it to the Office of the Ombudsman to file charges against the implicated BOC personnel.
“That is not my discretion. The Ombudsman is the prosecutor sa mga taga-gobyerno (of those in the government) who are facing charges,” Duterte said.
The Chief Executive also joked about asking the relieved BOC personnel to help him craft rules on how to prevent government personnel from stealing from the country.
“My rule is that help me craft a new implementing rule of how not to rob a country properly. So I will be asking them to report here and from the sources that I have commissioned, akin lang (just me), I would have cut down corruption by a third or one half,” Duterte said. (PNA)