MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has assured the public that he is trying his “very best” to eradicate corruption in government under his watch.
Duterte gave the assurance during his meeting with the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) executives and other government officials at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang Manila on Monday.
“You know, I’ve been trying really my very best to curb corruption,” Duterte said, amid Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao’s allegation that corruption in government remains widespread.
Duterte admitted that Pacquiao’s corruption allegations riled him.
While he is exhausting all efforts to stamp out corruption, Duterte said he could not stop the irregularities within government offices “overnight.”
“But I have made some a little progress in terminating, dismissing individuals. I cannot abolish offices but I can dismiss employees for their malfeasance,” Duterte said.
To combat corruption, Duterte guaranteed that his resolve is to implement “less” rules for Filipino citizens transacting with government offices.
“We stand against corruption. We stand for the people,” he said. “The less regulation that we can impose upon the people, the better. Many regulations, many signatures needed, and the opportunity for corruption is there.”
Pacquiao earlier named the departments of social welfare, health, energy, and environment as corrupt-ridden agencies.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, however, said on Monday that Pacquiao’s corruption claim against the four departments is “trivial” and has “no bill of particulars, no specific instance, no evidence, [and] no follow-up.”
Pacquiao’s tax evasion case
Turning the tables on Pacquiao, Duterte raised the previous tax evasion complaint against the senator.
Duterte said Pacquiao, having a total of PHP2.2 billion underpayment in taxes, should also be considered as a “corrupt” official.
“I remember that… I’ll try to find out. May ano ‘yan siya may utang siyang PHP2.2 billion. Not because gusto ko siyang habulin, ayaw ko, but sabi kasi niya corrupt. Eh ‘di kung corrupt kami, eh ‘di ikaw (He owed the government PHP2.2 billion. I’m saying this not because I want to go after him. But he is accusing us that we are corrupt. If we are corrupt, how about you)? When you cheat government, you are a corrupt official,” he said.
Duterte was referring to the tax evasion case filed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) against Pacquiao and his wife Jinkee in 2013 for alleged tax deficiencies in 2008 and 2009.
The BIR claimed Pacquiao had a total of PHP2.26-billion underpaid taxes for 2008 and 2009, including those for his earnings in his boxing matches abroad.
The BIR, in its final assessment, said the Pacquiaos’ total tax liabilities amounted to PHP3.29 billion, including penalties and surcharges.
However, the Court of Appeals on July 27, 2018 directed the BIR to “cease and desist” from collecting the alleged tax deficiency of Pacquiao and his wife pending decision on the senator’s petition questioning the BIR’s assessment. (PNA)