PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte announced on Thursday, Jan. 11, that around 70 policemen, three generals, and a chairman of a government agency will soon be put on his chopping block due to irregularities.

“I am firing another chairman of an entity in government maybe this week and another set of policemen,” Mr. Duterte said during the kick off ceremony of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation’s (PAGCOR) Game On! All In! For Nation Building. “I intend to fire…maybe 70 or 49 policemen and three generals for corruption,” he added.

Mr. Duterte also reiterated that he will continue with his aggressive campaign against corrupt government officials.

“This is really a purging regime. I think that I’ll be spending a lot of time just to clean up government and would consume four years for the time that I would be there,” the President said.

PAGCOR officials were told as well not to allow “police, BIR, (and even) Customs” to “extort” money. “You can call anybody in the government…and I will take care of it,” Mr. Duterte said.

“If you have problems even in the locals, do not bribe. Because once I find out, it will just sour up our relationship,” the President warned, adding, “All I have to do is for you to cooperate, and I said do not give in to extortionists.”

The President had recently fired Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) administrator Marcial Quirico C. Amaro III and Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP) Chair Terry Ridon for their “excessive” foreign trips.

Other officials who were relieved last year were Dionisio R. Santiago and Benjamin P. Reyes of the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB).

Last Monday, Jan. 8, Mr. Duterte also announced that he will now turn more of his attention to local government units including the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as part of his administration’s anti-corruption drive.

For his part, Presidential Spokesperson Herminio Harry L. Roque, Jr. explained that the President as well, not only the Ombudsman, has the power to remove local government officials.

“That is called concurrent jurisdiction…It’s because he is the highest chief executive in the republic. He has the supervision and control over government officials, so that is his legal basis,” Mr. Roque explained during a televised press briefing in Valencia, Bukidnon on Friday, Jan. 12.

Meanwhile, opposition Senator Antonio “Sonny” F. Trillanes IV said that he “will only believe” in Mr. Duterte’s corruption purge if he shows his “bank accounts.”

“He cannot explain until now how he acquired his billions,” Mr. Trillanes said in a radio interview.

The lawmaker likewise said that eventually the President himself “should be purged.”

Mr. Trillanes had challenged the President last year to explain the alleged P2 billion in his bank accounts and the alleged millions deposited by a campaign contributor. Mr. Duterte, for his part, had repeatedly denied the allegations of the lawmaker and even promised that he will “immediately” resign if the bank account claims are proven to be true. — Arjay L. Balinbin