Duterte on firing innocent officials: ‘Sorry na lang’

Pia Ranada
Duterte on firing innocent officials: ‘Sorry na lang’

King Rodriguez

President Rodrigo Duterte says he would rather make errors when accusing officials of corruption than ignore the accusations altogether

MANILA, Philippines – Officials fired over corruption but who are actually innocent will just have to accept President Rodrigo Duterte’s apologies for making a mistake.

If nagkamali ako na pinaalis kita at hindi pala totoo, e ‘di sorry na lang. (If I was wrong to fire you because allegations weren’t true, then sorry.) Then I’d say to you ‘sorry,’ but that’s it,” said Duterte on Thursday, December 29.

He was speaking to Rappler’s Maria Ressa during a one-on-one interview in Malacañang.

Duterte said he would rather make errors when accusing officials of corruption than ignore the accusations altogether.

“I would rather magkamali ako (I would rather make a mistake)…If my suspicions are almost equivocal, I’d rather choose the path that – though it’s a mistake, para mahinto na (so it stops),” he said.

In Duterte’s first 6 months in power, he made very public accusations of corruption among government officials.

Recently, he fired two Bureau of Immigration officials, who are his own fraternity brothers, aside from sacking 92 employees of regulatory agencies. He also demanded the resignation of Energy Regulatory Commission officials.

‘Headway’ in fighting corruption

During the interview, Duterte said that out of all his accomplishments in his first 6 months as president, he is proudest of his anti-corruption campaign.

“I’m doing well in the matter of the first promise that I maybe minimize or stamp out corruption totally. I think we are making a headway here, progress,” Duterte told Ressa.

He warned corrupt officials that if they continue their dishonest practices, they will lose their job or “face total humiliation.”

Duterte also said he will not tolerate corruption perpetrated by his own family members.

“I promise you that I will stick to the rules, that I will not bend it for anybody. If one of my relatives is involved in corruption sa gobyerno (in government), I’ll give you my word now, I will resign from the presidency,” he said.

But he said such accusations must come in the form of complaints to the Ombudsman and not mere hearsay.

Some of the Duterte administration’s efforts to fight corruption include the 8888 Citizen Complaints Hotline and his issuance of a Freedom of Information Executive Order.

Barely a week in power, Duterte announced the names of 5 police generals supposedly involved in the illegal drug trade. He has revealed a supposed “matrix” of the drug trade in the national penitentiary, which includes Senator Leila de Lima and Pangasinan 5th District Representative Amado Espino Jr.

Later on, Duterte apologized for including Espino’s name despite lacking evidence.

The President also released a list of over 150 government officials involved in drugs. But he has chosen to not yet publicize his “final” drug list, preferring to give copies to leaders of Congress and the Supreme Court after a series of revalidations. – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.