MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Rodrigo Duterte announced on Thursday, July 11, that he planned to dismiss 64 employees of the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
The employees, he said, will face charges and will be assigned to Malacañang while their cases are being heard.
"I will be dismissing 64 Customs employees. In the meantime that their cases are being heard...I want them to be here in Malacañang," Duterte said at the Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCC) Day ceremony at the Palace.
In an interview with reporters after the event, Duterte said he ordered the Customs employees to report to the Palace on Monday, July 15.
The President said he wanted the Customs employees to help him "craft new implementing rules of how not to rob a country."
Though he at first said the Customs personnel would face charges, he said later in his speech that they might be spared if they resign.
"You resign or I'll file charges," said Duterte.
He did not reveal any of the names of the 64, but said they include employees who are "facing charges and those who have been implicated in shenanigans."
They are as yet not officially fired because the President said he wanted to give them their "right to be heard."
Duterte claimed that he got the names of the 64 employees from intelligence "dossiers" he had just finished reading. He estimated that by dismissing 64, he would have reduced corruption by a third to a half.
"From the sources I have commissioned, I would have cut down corruption by a third or one half," said Duterte.
Earlier on Thursday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said more than 50 BOC officials and employees could be dismissed by Duterte in the coming days.
"From what I gather, around 72 will be removed or will face administrative charges," Panelo said during a Malacañang news briefing.
Unsure of the exact number, Panelo said it would certainly number "more than 50, less than 100," all from the BOC.
The night before, Panelo had announced that Duterte ordered the "freezing" of "several" Customs officials and employees. Panelo, on Thursday, said this meant they are on "floating status."
He said Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero was not among those placed on floating status.
Duterte had met with Customs officials on Tuesday, July 9, according to Panelo.
Under the Duterte presidency, the BOC has had 3 chiefs, starting with Nicanor Faeldon, then Isidro Lapeña, then Guerrero – all former military men. The President has often called the bureau one of the most corruption-infested agencies in government. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.