MORE OFFICIALS from various agencies are expected to be summoned by President Rodrigo R. Duterte after the State of the Nation Address (SONA) for their alleged involvement in corruption, the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) said Monday.

PACC Commissioner and Spokesperson Greco Antonious Beda B. Belgica told BusinessWorld in a phone interview on Monday: “Iniimbestigahan na po ngayon ‘yan. After SONA, marami sa kanila ipapatawag. Tapos ay pinaghahandaan na ‘yong mga rekomendasyon sa Pangulo (They are being investigated right now. After SONA, many of them will be summoned. The recommendations to the President on the disposal of their cases are being prepared.)”

He said these officials are from agencies that received the most corruption complaints. “Yung 64 Customs [officials and employees] marami pang kasunod ‘yan (more will follow the 64 Customs officials and employees).”

He said other agencies include the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), whose personnel will be affected by the President’s “more drastic and massive” anti-corruption drive in the second half of his six-year term.

Mr. Belgica added that the administration will be “meaner” towards corrupt government officials.

“The mandate of the President for the next three years is to be more serious with corruption and to pursue systemic changes. We will be meaner to the corrupt,” he said.

He said the public should expect the government to be “merciless, walang padrino, at pasensya (the government will not respect powerful patrons and will have no patience for corruption)” in the remaining three years.

Mas madiin lang kami ngayon. Walang consideration if you are into corruption. When we catch you, sibakin ka talaga namin, ipahiya ka namin, iwanan ka pa namin ng kaso (We will be firmer this time, and offer no consideration. We won’t just fire people, we will embarrass them and charge them in court),” he added.

Mr. Duterte announced on July 11 that he will be firing 64 officials and employees of the BoC due to their involvement in corruption.

On Thursday last week, he met with the officials and employees at the Palace, telling them 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 President’s Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said in a statement.

Mr. Panelo also said the President “would not begrudge them if they avail of legal remedies to question their removal from office.”

“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,” Mr. Panelo said. — Arjay L. Balinbin