Duterte says to ‘relieve’ 64 Customs employees due to corruption

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 11 2019 05:04 PM | Updated as of Jul 11 2019 06:54 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday he would “relieve” 64 Bureau of Customs (BOC) employees of their duties next week due to corruption.

Duterte made the announcement a day after he ordered the “freezing” of some high-ranking executives of the agency.

"If I can dismiss them, I will be dismissing something like 64 Customs employees," he said in a speech at the Malacañang Palace.

"In the meantime that their case[s] are being heard, in obedience of the rule of the right to be heard, I want them to be here in Malacañang. My view is that help me craft a new implementing rules of how not to rob a country properly," he said.

The President explained that corruption in the agency is "a simple case of... you resign or I file charges." 

Speaking to reporters, the President clarified that he would “relieve” “a number of employees from Customs” of their duties because they are “players” in several illegal shipments.

“I will relieve them of their duties as they are not yet ousted or dismissed because of their right to be heard. Tinatanggal ko sila sa trabaho ngayon (I’m removing them from their work right now) to prevent further damage to government interest,” he said.

He said, however, that he leaves it up to the Office of the Ombudsman to file charges against supposedly corrupt Customs employees.

Duterte also ordered Customs employees with pending cases or had cases before to report to the Palace on Monday.

The President said he could cut corruption in the government by a third once he weeds out crooked officials and employees at the BOC, which he has repeatedly criticized.

In 2018, Duterte said he wanted the Armed Forces of the Philippines to take over the agency after billions of pesos worth of illegal drugs slipped past its watch.

The BOC is currently headed by Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero, a former Army chief.