MANILA— President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he had a year left to go after corrupt government officials, vowing that he would catch them.
"I still have about a year to go. I will reach you," Duterte said in his sixth and last State of the Nation Address (SONA).
In his speech, Duterte said his administration has dismissed about 200 government personnel because of corruption.
"Some I did not allow the publication because may mga pamilya (they have families)," he said.
The dismissed personnel include those involved in the "pastillas" bribery scam, under which Chinese nationals allegedly bribed immigration workers to enter the Philippines as tourists and later work for Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations hubs.
But Duterte also said corruption was "endemic" in the government.
If the next president wants to get rid of corruption, they should "declare martial law," and remove and replace all government workers, Duterte said.
"Kung hindi mo gaganunin, walang mangyayari. Nandiyan ['yong corruption], it's in the system," he said.
(If you won't do that, nothing will happen. Corruption is there, it's in the system.)
Duterte said this just weeks after taking offense of former ally Sen. Manny Pacquiao's remarks on supposed worse corruption under his administration.
Duterte, in his first SONA in 2016, vowed a "clean government" under his leadership.
In the same year, Duterte issued an executive order on freedom of information, which he said in his latest SONA promoted transparency in government.
Duterte also mentioned the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission that dealt with erring government officials.
Still, several corruption controversies erupted under Duterte's term, such as the alleged "pastillas scam" in the immigration bureau as well supposedly missing P15 billion in funds at the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Philhealth).
Pacquiao recently bared alleged fraud in the distribution of pandemic aid to poor families.
In 2020, the Philippines ranked 115th out of 180 coutnries in a global corruption index, improving its position by 2 notches.
Streamlined government processes
In his latest SONA, Duterte also thanked Congress for passing the Ease of Doing Business Act, which he said streamlined government processes.
Duterte said government transactions would be further streamlined with the Philippine National Identification System.
"We hope to facilitate them, better services and access for all Filipinos, even in far-flung areas," he said.