In search of an honest man at Peza, Duterte forgets
Time flies, and memory dims.
An honest man is difficult to find, President Duterte lamented on Thursday, citing this as a reason he said he had not made any new appointment to the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza).
It wasn’t clear which position he was referring to, but in September he appointed former Butuan City Rep. Charito Plaza as director general of the agency.
Mr. Duterte, in a speech in Pampanga province, referred to his supposed predicament days after firing two of his fraternity brothers in the Bureau of Immigration accused of extortion.
“In the Peza, the reason there’s nobody there, I haven’t appointed anyone. Up to now, I’m looking for the proverbial honest man,” Mr. Duterte said, adding that he was like the person carrying a lamp in daylight, searching for this honest man. “I haven’t found anybody. Maybe he’s here in Pampanga.”
The President’s spokesperson Ernesto Abella later clarified that Mr. Duterte referred to the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority. “Ceza, according to the President, has unremitted earnings amounting to P300 billion annually; it is currently headed by Jose Mari Ponce. a holdover from past administrations, who was appointed in 2004,” Abella said in a text message.
Mr. Duterte mentioned the economic zone a day after he ordered the shutting down of online gambling, which operates here but accepts bets outside the country, which are not taxable. (See related story on Page B1.)
The President said on Thursday the one appointed to Peza received about P300 billion selling the “umbrella type” gaming licenses. The amount does not go to the government, he said.
Mr. Duterte reiterated his promise of a clean government, and said he regularly warned his Cabinet members to steer clear of corruption.
“I will assure you there will be no corruption. Your money would go to you. Every Cabinet meeting, I issue a warning,” he said.
He cited again the two immigration commissioners he had fired even though they belonged to the same fraternity.
Former Immigration Commissioners Al Argosino and Mike Robles were accused of extorting P50 million from gambling tycoon Jack Lam in exchange for the release of his Chinese employees who were nabbed for working without permits.
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