Anti-corruption body to probe flagged agencies

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President Rodrigo R. Duterte has decried rampant government corruption, citing graft at several agencies including PhilHealth, the Customs and Internal Revenue bureaus. -- KRIZJOHN ROSALES/PHILSTAR

By Arjay L. Balinbin

THE Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) will investigate officials and employees of government agencies that were recently flagged for corruption, Chairman Dante L. Jimenes said by telephone on Friday.

Among the agencies are the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Bureau of Customs, PhilHealth and Philippine Charity Sweepstates Office, he said.

The law mandates PACC to fight corruption in various government institutions and ensure public officials behave in a manner that is worthy of public trust.

“All of them,” Mr. Jimenez said when asked which agencies will be probed, adding that they would zero in on the main tax agencies, the charity office and the national insurance provider. He added PACC would prioritize officials who volunteer for a lifestyle check.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte in his annual address to Congress last month decried persistent government corruption. He said the recent uncovering of massive fraud perpetrated against the public health insurance system proves that corruption is pervasive.

“Huge amounts of medical funds were released to cover padded medical claims and imaginary treatment of ghost patients. I am grossly disappointed,” he said.

Mr. Duterte also claimed to have fired and caused the resignation of more than a hundred officials and appointees of government “without regard to relationship, friendship and alliance.”

The president likewise vowed to pave the way for the removal of corrupt officials at the Bureau of Customs, where more than 60 people are under investigation for corruption.

Mr. Duterte later suspended lotto operations nationwide for alleged corruption, only to restore them four days after because the operations were found to be above board.

Mr. Jimenez said billions of pesos have been lost to corruption. “Number two, we want to look at their systems and their organization setups,” he said.

The PACC chief said they would submit reports to the president. “It will take time because of the sheer number of government agencies.”