Duterte’s Failed Commitment To End Corruption

President Duterte's blind eye toward corruption in the Philippines

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PHILIPPINES. Manila: The Philippines is ranked as one of the most corrupt countries, 113 out of 180 nations. President Rodrigo Duterte won the presidency with a campaign to eradicate corruption in the Philippines within six months.

He said in 2016, “If I succeed [in resolving crime and corruption] perhaps that would be my greatest contribution to the country, but if I fail, kill me.” Yet, the Duterte administration continues to assign government officials linked to corruption. As per his weekly report on 28 September, he offered to resign because he is tired of corruption.

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On 27 October, President Duterte dedicated his remaining years in office to fight corruption. He issued a memorandum and ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate corruption during his administration. He said, “The DOJ shall have the authority to decide which allegations to investigate, taking into consideration the gravity thereof and their impact on the delivery of government service.”

Former military and police government officials linked to corruption

Former military and police officers occupied one-third of the cabinet in the Duterte Administration in 2018. Also, he assigned them to different government agencies. 

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President Duterte assigned Ricardo Morales, a former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Brigade General, to the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth). The Duterte administration appointed him in 2019 to eradicate corruption as the CEO and President. After he was put under investigation for corruption in PhilHealth, he resigned on 26 August.

Former National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Dante Gierran replaced Morales after his resignation. However, his resignation does not exclude him from the investigation. It includes the Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III, a board member of PhilHealth, and a cabinet member of the Duterte Administration.

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The Duterte administration is unclear about its plan to deal with the COVID-19 situation but spends tax money on other matters. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) dumped artificial white sand on Manila Bay which was washed out after a few weeks. And the Philippine President assigned former AFP General Roy Cimatu as DENR secretary.

DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu took office and linked him to military corruption in 2011. He has received Ph10 million as AFP Chief of Staff and Ph80 million since leaving office. Yet, Secretary Cimatu impressed the Duterte Administration on his project.

The Duterte Administration wants the DOH to investigate corruption in the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) concerning the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) COVID-19 aid. The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) released a budget of Ph199.975 billion in April. The DSWD distributed Ph53.8 billion to more than 10 million Filipino families.

President Duterte shares the blame

President Duterte should share the blame for the Philippines’ increase in corruption as published by Nikkei Asia. Yet, the Duterte government has tolerated and ignored any anomalies that have happened.

Senators asked Health Secretary Duque to resign because of his involvement in corruption. However, the Duterte Administration kept him in office to continue with the task force dealing with COVID-19. President Duterte said, “Secretary Duque, this is not the time for you to resign. So, I have heard stories about you going to resign. I have full trust in you.”

When President Duterte said, “Don’t worry, we have the money.” He was referring to the Ph275 billion budget aligned for COVID-19 response in March. However, recently the President said that funds have dried up with no data on where the money was spent.

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