PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte on Thursday met with “several” officials and employees of the Bureau of Customs (BoC) whom he had placed on floating status for alleged corruption.

“The Office of the President confirms that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte met with several officials and employees of the Bureau of Customs today here at the Malacañan Palace,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said in a statement he issued late Thursday.

Mr. Panelo said the President told the Customs employees and officials during the meeting that they will be given their day in court, consistent with due process.

“Administrative charges over allegations of corrupt practices in office will be filed against them before the Office of the Ombudsman, unless they opt to resign, and the prosecutors will ask for their immediate suspension,” the spokesman said.

Mr. Duterte, the spokesman also said “that [President Duterte] would not begrudge them if they would avail of legal remedies to question their removal from office.”

“The President has been forthright in telling these customs officials and employees that corruption has no place under his watch,” he added.

Mr. Duterte also thanked the Customs officials and employees for accepting his invitation to meet him at the Palace, which according to him, showed they still have respect for him, Mr. Panelo noted.

But pending the filing of cases, they shall be on “floating status without authority to act on official matters,” the Palace official said.

“Let this serve as a reminder to all those officials or employees in the government that they cannot escape liability or accountability for their acts of corruption under the Duterte administration,” he said.

On July 11, the president had said that he would be axing 64 ranking officials of the Bureau of Customs due to their involvement in corruption. He made the announcement in a speech after the official signing of a $1.3-billion loan agreement for the Malolos-Clark Railway Project at the Malacañan Palace.

“I will be dismissing 64 Customs employees. In the meantime, I want them to report here in Malacañang,” he said. — Arjay L. Balinbin