Corruption in the Philippines

Duterte fires NEA chief over corruption allegations

Lian Buan

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Duterte fires NEA chief over corruption allegations

TALK TO THE NATION. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte presides over a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members prior to his talk to the people at the Arcadia Active Lifestyle Center in Matina, Davao City on August 20, 2021.

Presidential photo

President Duterte says his decision to sack National Electrification Administration chief Edgardo Masongsong should send a strong message that his administration is serious in its anti-corruption drive

President Rodrigo Duterte has fired National Electrification Administration chief Edgardo Masongsong over corruption allegations.

Duterte announced this during a two-hour recorded speech aired Saturday morning, August 21, which was dominated by his defense of the Department of Health (DOH) after state auditors flagged the agency’s deficient use of pandemic response funds in 2020.

“We’ve been talking about corruption. Alam mo may bago akong (I have a new), the name is Edgardo Masongsong. He’s the administrator of the National Electrification Administration. I dismissed him from public service,” the President said.

Duterte said he followed the recommendation of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC), which he created in 2017 when he was miffed with then-ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales over an investigation into the wealth of the first family.

Based on its investigation, the PACC accused Masongsong of allowing electric cooperatives to continue financial support to the Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association (Philreca) party-list.

Duterte said Masongsong’s dismissal should show his government’s intent to weed out corruption in government.

“I’m given the opportunity to show to the people again, we are not bragging about it but we are trying our best to cope with the situation regarding graft and corruption in our government,” said Duterte.

The President’s speech was dedicated to addressing controversial Commission on Audit (COA) audit reports on the DOH in 2020, which reignited calls for Duque’s resignation. He defended his embattled health chief anew, saying he would keep Health Secretary Francisco Duque III in his Cabinet “even if it will bring me down.”

In the same speech, Duterte called on trade chief Ramon Lopez to defend the government’s purchase of overpriced face shields and face masks. The controversial purchase was made by former budget undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao, who used to work for Senator Bong Go in Malacañang.

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan is a senior investigative reporter, and minder of Rappler's justice, human rights and crime cluster.