Manila: President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered a renewed campaign against corruption as he trained his sights, this time, on wayward local elected executives whom, he said, are giving the government a bad name.
“I have been controlling graft and corruption (since the start of my administration) … I do not know how much it has restored the faith of the people in government but for me, the campaign versus wrongdoing in government is number one in the list,” the president said at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Sunday upon arriving from Vietnam where he attended the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Leaders’ Summit.
Duterte’s leadership had been associated with his no-holds-barred campaign against drugs which led to the deaths of nearly 4,500 suspects according to the police, but the president said the drive against traffickers of illegal substance is just one component of his overall scheme to rid graft and corruption which is the centrepiece of his governance.
“I have said that it is important to do away with graft and corruption ... that was my number one promise (during the campaign for presidency). The second is the need to eradicate drugs, and the third is the campaign versus the communists,” he said.
According to Transparency International, a global civil society organisation advocating freedom from corruption, the Philippines scored 35 or midpoint in its Corruption Perceptions Index 2016 where a score of 100 equates to very clean governance.
Among Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) member countries, Singapore ranked least corrupt with a Corruption Perception Index score of 84.
During his arrival speech, Duterte said as part of his campaign against corruption, he has ordered newly designated Interior Undersecretary Eduardo Ano to investigate a number of governors and mayors and other local level public officials.
“When I see you are making things difficult or you allow corruption to thrive in your locality, then as mayor or governor, I will order the new Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government, the former military chief of staff, Año, to investigate you,” said Duterte.
Año was supposed to have retired five months ago at the end of his service, but Duterte retained him as he was in the middle of the military campaign against extremists in Marawi City. Last October, he was allowed to step down from the armed forces’ top post and was appointed undersecretary of the interior which has power over the national police.