Duterte tells officials: Avoid vested interests
DAVAO CITY—Incoming President Rodrigo Duterte told officials on Wednesday to shun offers of money from vested interests, recalling that at one time he hid from Lucio Tan, one of the country’s wealthiest, who had chased him with cash.
While he did not elaborate on the incident, Duterte stressed accepting cash in exchange for something remains a “bad practice” and meant a payback in some other way.
“I assure you that I never really accepted any money from any mining company,” he said in a speech in Sarangani province where he was the guest of honor in the oath-taking of Senator-elect Manny Pacquiao. “Lucio Tan for example offered money… I purposely avoided him.”
Duterte said even during the elections, he turned down offers from people with vested interests. He said it was “difficult to be tied up” usually during the vote.
Duterte, who as Davao City mayor for more than 20 years had been untainted by corruption charges, said government officials should live within their means and immediately stop accepting money from vested groups.
In his usual rambling, free-wheeling style, he again cited the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs as among the most corrupt agencies of government and urged those involved in the practice to immediately stop.
“Customs, you’re just like the BIR. On the side you make money aside from your salaries, which you regard as your allowance. We should not fool each other anymore. Let’s be frank. Change your lifestyle, less expense. Maybe if you [used to] buy a car every other year, make it five years [from now on] and try to be just an ordinary government worker,” he said.
Duterte also urged government workers to be honest at all times even if it would cost them their jobs. He urged public officials to approach him and tell the truth “and I will think if you’re fit to be killed or not.”
He again reiterated the need to restore the death penalty, not as a deterrent to crime, but to make criminals pay for their crimes.
“Whether you like to commit a crime or not, that’s not my business. Death penalty to me is a retribution. You pay for what you did,” he said.
Meanwhile he said that under his six-year presidency, education and health are among top his priorities.
He said that his health program would be massive, backed by the “entire earnings” of the state casino operator which will bankroll medicines, among others.
For his part, Pacquiao pledged his all-out support to Duterte’s programs and policies.
“This afternoon, I declare my wholehearted support to our new President, Rodrigo Duterte,” Pacquiao said. Allan Nawal, Inquirer Mindanao
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