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Duterte tells 2 Asecs to resign

By GENALYN KABILING, with report from Jeffrey Damicog

President Duterte has asked two department assistant secretaries to resign or else face dismissal over corruption allegations, Malacañang announced yesterday.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the resignations of Assistant Secretary Moslemen Macarambon Sr. of the Department of Justice (DoJ) and Assistant Secretary Tingagun Umpa of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) have been sought by the President following an investigation conducted by the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC).

“The President has advised two Assistant Secretaries to tender their resignation or face termination for corruption,” Roque said during a Palace press briefing.

Based on the PACC probe, Macarambon has regularly been “intervening on behalf of suspected smugglers of gold and other precious jewelry at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport,” according to Roque.

Umpa, on the other hand, has been accused of allegedly demanding kickbacks from contractors of projects in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

“Investigation conducted by the DPWH indicates that Asec Umpa committed grave abuse of power and may have committed also acts of corruption, among others. DPWH has sworn statements where Asec Umpa allegedly asked from contractors in the ARMM area for certain percentages from projects awarded to these contractors,” Roque said.

Both Macarambon and Umpa are appointees of the President.

Asked if cases would be pursued against the two officials, Roque said it’s up to the Office of the Ombudsman to handle the matter. He noted though that the probe findings by the PACC and the concerned departments could be used by the Ombudsman in its own investigation.

When asked if there were other officials to be sacked, Roque said the PACC has inherited around 400 complaints the Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs. “Maraming complaints ang iniimbestigahan ngayon ng PACC,” he said.

The President has already fired several government officials over corruption and other abuses in power. He previously promised to dismiss officials at the first whiff of corruption.

Meanwhile, Macarambon denied the allegations.

“As far as I’m concerned I did not do anything wrong,” stressed Macarambon.

Macarambon explained he only asked the BoC to re-compute the taxes his in-laws should pay over the gold and jewelry they bought worth R7 million.

After being asked to pay R6 million in taxes, Macarambon said his in-laws were only asked to pay R1.38 million following the re-computation.

“I just want to clear my name,” Macarambon said.

“Kasi yang pag-resign namin nasa kanya na but I just want to clear my name,” he explained.

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