Duterte says he fired NEA chief, gov't 'trying best' vs corruption

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 21 2021 11:30 AM | Updated as of Aug 21 2021 01:17 PM

Video courtesy of PTV​

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte said on Friday he has fired the head of the National Electrification Administration (NEA) and assured the public that government was trying its "best" to stamp out corruption. 

Duterte said the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, after an investigation, recommended the removal of NEA administrator Edgardo Masongsong. 

"I dismissed him from public service," the President said in a taped national address that aired on Saturday. 

Duterte said this in the same address where he blasted the Commission on Audit for its public release of audit reports, which he said has led to the "flogging" of government officials and agencies. 

COA, whose main mandate is to ensure prudent public spending, had recently flagged alleged deficiencies in the health department's use of COVID-19 funds. 

Duterte, who in 2016 promised to crush corruption in 3 to 6 months, acknowledged that some people are "skeptic and cynic about our desire to improve government service." 

"We do not claim to maybe really, totally clean government at this time, not even with another president," he said. 

"Endemic ang corruption (corruption is endemic), but from time to time, ito, I’m given the opportunity to show the people that we are not bragging about it, but we are trying our best to cope up with situation regarding graft and corruption in our government." 

The Commission on Audit recently flagged deficiencies in various agencies, including the health department for its management of some P67 billion in pandemic funds. 

Duterte earlier this week said it was "pure bullshit" to assume there was corruption in the health agency because of the state auditors' report. 

"We have to correct that perception because it will destroy the faith of the people in government... And it's very important, the people must be informed and they must realize that we are a working government," Duterte said in his latest speech. 

"I do not, I said, proclaim that it is graft-free. We are trying our very best to cope up," he added.

Duterte's administration has been dogged by scandals and allegations of graft and cover-ups in state agencies ranging from prisons, the state insurer, immigration, airports and customs, to police and the drugs enforcement agency, few of which led to convictions or high-profile resignations.

The Philippines fell 14 notches to 113th spot among 180 countries in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index in 2019. Last year, the country slipped two more spots to 115th. 

— With a report from Reuters