Tugade corrupt? Duterte doubts it

Pia Ranada

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Tugade corrupt? Duterte doubts it
President Rodrigo Duterte defends his San Beda law classmate and appointee amid speculations that a Cabinet official will be axed

MANILA, Philippines – Amid speculation that Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade may be the next Cabinet official to be axed, President Rodrigo Duterte himself came to his appointee’s defense.

May mga allegations, magpunta doon, na corrupt (There are allegations, he goes there, he’s corrupt). Sabi ko (I said), he doesn’t have time for that. He doesn’t even know how to count his money,” said Duterte on Friday, October 20, during the launch of Cebu Pacific Airlines’ airport code for Cagayan de Oro.  

Tugade was present at the event and sat beside Duterte. He had introduced Duterte as a president  unmatched in terms of love for country.

Duterte, at the start of his speech, complimented Tugade in turn.

“Secretary Tugade, in respect to his statement, he also has no match, he is bright. He was our brightest classmate in law school,” said Duterte about his fellow San Bedan.

Duterte has a record of firing Cabinet members and other officials, supposedly over corruption allegations. Most recently, he fired Budget Undersecretary Gertrudo de Leon for “tinkering” with money. 

He sacked Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno for facilitating the purchase of overpriced fire trucks in Austria. The same fate was met by former National Irrigation Administration chief Peter Laviña for supposedly demanding kickbacks for irrigation projects in Mindanao. 

Duterte has promised to fire government officials after even just a “whiff” of corruption.

Tugade, known as an assertive and firebrand leader in his own right, has supposedly been the subject of complaints of some businessmen.

Back in June, Duterte threatened to fire an official whom Tugade recommended to the post –  Clark Development Corporation chief executive officer and president Noel Manankil. 

Duterte reportedly suspects the CDC chief or his department has been accepting money for certain projects and deals. 

The President has often praised Tugade in the past, calling him a self-made “billionaire.”  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.