MANILA (UPDATE)—President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday night met with officials and employees of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) who were relieved from their duties due to allegations of corruption.
"The president has been forthright in telling these Customs officials and employees that corruption has no place under his watch. He told them that consistent with due process, they will be given their day in court," Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
He said the accused Customs workers could step down or face charges.
"PRRD assured them that he would not begrudge them if they would avail of legal remedies to question their removal from office," Panelo said.
"He thanked them for accepting his invitation to meet him in Malacañang, which according to him, showed they still have respect for him."
Panelo said the relieved officials and employees are placed on floating status for the meantime.
The meeting began past 6 p.m. and was attended by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Panelo.
Heads rolled recently in the BOC after some 64 employees of the corruption-plagued agency were relieved of their duties.
Duterte explained last week that he removed the employees because he was fed up with corruption in the agency. He also claimed that he could cut corruption in the government by a third once he weeds out crooked officials and employees from the BOC.
“Napuno na ako, sabi ko hindi talaga mahinto itong p*t*ng in*ng ito, umalis kayo diyan,” he said last Friday.
(I got really fed up. These people just won't stop. Just go.)
The BOC is currently headed by Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero, a former Army chief.
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.