Duterte warns he's about to fire an official

ANTI-CORRUPTION. President Rodrigo Duterte attends the turnover of military assistance from China at the Clark Air Base in Pampanga.

Photo by Pia Ranada/Rappler

PAMPANGA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Rodrigo Duterte warned that he may fire an official in the next few days if corruption allegations against that person are proven.

"I am about to fire somebody from here. If it is proven that humingi siya ng pera, may opisyal dito na tatanggalin ko (If it is proven that he asked for money, there's an official here that I will sack). When I prove it, I'll fire him," said Duterte on Wednesday, June 28, during the turnover of military assistance from China at Clark Air Base in Pampanga.

The official, said Duterte, was present at the event where he was speaking. Officials present included Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief General Eduardo Año, Presidential Adviser on Military Affairs Arthur Tabaquero, and Bases and Conversion Development Authority chief Vince Dizon. 

There were many other lower-level military officials present.

A Rappler source in the Palace said the official Duterte may fire soon is not a Cabinet secretary.

Duterte then launched into a tirade against corruption in government, saying "that is the very thing that has pulled us down all throughout the years." 

"That's why we aren't progressing because government is full of thieves, especially those of you who are below, the directors. I will not hesitate to fire you even if you've been there for the last 25 years," said the President in a mix of English and Filipino. 

"Avoid corruption during my time because I will never countenance it. Huwag 'nyo gawin sa panahon ko, upakan ko kayo (Don't do it during my time because I will hit you)," he said.

Duterte's first year in power was rocked by his sacking of high-profile officials including Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno, National Irrigation Administration chief Peter Laviña, and two Bureau of Immigration deputy commissioners who were his fraternity brothers.

Before his warning, Duterte told his audience of navy personnel that he was recently angered by a delay in the procurement of medical equipment for a military hospital. In the first months of his presidency, he had promised he would improve major AFP hospitals.

"Kanina lang, nagalit ako kasi 3 months after I assumed office, I went to the AFP V. Luna (hospital), tiningnan ko 'yung equipment, wala," he recalled.

(Just earlier, I got angry because 3 months after I assumed office, I went to the AFP V. Luna hospital, I looked at the equipment, they had none.)

He had been talking to Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr, and Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno who assured him there were enough funds. 

There was already a winning bid for the project but procurement was delayed due to a protest over the bidding process.

"Would you believe it, until now, it was bought just recently, there was a winning bid, then a protest. This is the sickness of Filipinos," said an incensed Duterte.

The President repeated his warning to abusive companies who protest winning bids to make money, and the judges who collude with such companies.

"A case is filed against the one who won so there will be a delay until the winning bidder talks to the one who protested and tells them they will pay them if they withdraw their protest. It's a business. The judges are part of it,"  said Duterte. – Rappler.com

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.