President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate allegations of corruption “in the entire government”.
In a pre-recorded speech aired Tuesday, Duterte read out loud a directive giving the DOJ authority to decide which allegations to investigate.
He, however, said he wanted the DOJ to have a special focus on the corrupt-ridden Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
“It may create as many panels as it deems necessary or adequate and may invite or direct other bodies or agencies of the government to assist or be part of such panel,” he said.
He said the DOJ may also prosecute and file appropriate charges against those involved in anomalies investigated whether against the government or private person as may be warranted by evidence gathered.
“The power and authority of the DOJ under existing laws and previous directives to investigate the commission of crimes and prosecute violators shall not in any way be diminished by this directive,” he added.
Duterte said the directive would be in effect until June 30, 2022 unless sooner lifted or revoked.
While recognizing that the Office of the Ombudsman has the power to investigate and prosecute government officials and employees, Duterte said the Office of the Presidency can also conduct its own investigations and file cases.
“The Ombudsman ‘yung pinaka (is) number one. Ideally, ‘yung malaking pera diretso mo na sa (when huge sums of money are involved, you send them straight to the) Ombudsman if I were to have my say. Pero ang gobyerno, ang (But the government, the) Presidency can investigate, can send you to prison kaya nga kung ang prosecution nito is the (but prosecution will be determined by the) Ombudsman ultimately,” he said.
Last week, DPWH Secretary Mark Villar has created the Task Force Against Graft and Corruption that would look into the supposed corruption within his agency.
Duterte has repeatedly absolved Villar of any wrongdoing.
“I have nothing against Sec. Villar. He’s one of the hard-working at maraming accomplishments si Sec. Villar. But you know, accomplishments alone to me should not suffice,” he said.
Last August, Duterte asked the DOJ to create a task force that would probe alleged irregularities hounding the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).
He bared that even if he wanted to do so, he could not abolish the state insurer because “it’s not easy” to create a new agency.
Meanwhile, he also warned corrupt PhilHealth officials that they could not escape liability even if they stepped down from their posts.
“Let me remind everybody in this government na your resignation will not save your neck. Alam mo bakit (You know why)? You are not allowed to resign if there is a pending case against you. Mag-resign ka man, hindi ka mag (Even if you resign, you don’t) report, but then you would be summoned or subpoenaed not because you are already out of government but because for all intents and purposes, you are still part of the government. You are not allowed to escape liability,” he said.
Duterte, a former prosecutor, said they were wrong to think that resigning would prevent them from facing administrative or criminal charges.
“Do not try to resign to escape culpability. That ain’t accepted dito sa gobyerno (here in government). You cannot resign when you have a case pending,” he said. (PNA)