Duterte fired Pasig River agency chief for ‘asking money’
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte said he fired the executive director of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC) for spreading word about his supposed appointment to the Bureau of Customs and then “asking money” from people dealing with that agency.
The President announced on Tuesday night Jose Antonio Goitia’s dismissal “for corruption.”
Goitia was “bruiting about” that he would be placed in the customs bureau, according to the President.
“And he was already asking money from those connected with the Customs,” the President said. “He’s telling people that he will be appointed Customs collector and already was collecting.”
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the decision to sack the PRRC chief was “pursuant to the President’s continuing mandate to eradicate graft and corruption” and was meant to “ensure that public officials and employees conduct themselves in a manner worthy of public trust.”
Still a supporter
Goitia did not comment on the corruption allegations in a statement he issued late on Tuesday after Malacañang announced that he had been fired but thanked the President for entrusting the PRRC post to him.
“I will remain fully supportive of the President’s administration reform and development agenda even as I start to embark on my life’s new journey,” he said.
The President did not say whether the former PRRC chief would be charged.
He said Goitia was just the first PRRC official to be sacked for wrongdoing while the others would be investigated. “My intention is to wipe them all out, all of them,” he said.
The PRRC is the agency tasked with rehabilitating the once biologically dead Pasig River.
The Commission on Audit reported recently that despite the PRRC’s using up nearly all of its funds last year, the agency’s accomplishments were “notably low,” ranging from a dismal 1 percent completion to 27.6 percent.
P107-M budget last year
In June, Goitia denied allegations that the PRRC failed to complete some rehabilitation projects of Metro Manila’s waterways even with a P107-million budget for 2018.
He assured the public that the PRRC was strictly monitoring the progress of its rehabilitation project to revive the Pasig River and other waterways.
PRRC spokesperson George de la Rama on Wednesday said Operations Director Anshari Lomodag Jr. took over as interim chief of the agency.
Malacañang did not say when Goitia was fired but a PRRC statement said that as of Monday it had already “abided with the orders of the Office of the President of the Philippines in the changes in leadership of the commission.” —With a report from Jhesset O. Enano
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