Duterte hits govt official for lavish spending

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PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has taken a swipe at a government official over that official’s reported lavish spending.

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In his speech during a dinner he hosted for the Philippine Air Force’s Dragon Boat Team on Tuesday in Malacañang, Duterte said he was looking into reports that a public official not belonging to the Executive branch allegedly stayed in expensive hotels and traveled first class.

“May isang opisyal tayo dito sa gobyerno, na tiningnan namin ‘yung travel — hindi sa departamento, not the Executive department (There’s an official here in the government whose travel is being reviewed. That person is not from my department, not the executive department),” the President said.

“(That government official) is travelling abroad via first-class airplane (cabin). And the room in the hotels where [that person]stayed is first class. One room used is a presidential suite. This will come out,” he added.

But the President did not divulge the name of the government official although he made a passing reference to Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

Duterte’s swipe came after advocacy groups Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) and Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution, and lawyer Larry Gadon sought Sereno’s ouster for allegedly committing culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust.

Gadon, in his petition, claimed Sereno committed corruption when she used public funds to “finance her lavish lifestyle” by purchasing a brand new car amounting to more than P5 million.

Sereno also allegedly stayed in expensive hotels while attending conferences and traveled via business or first class, bringing with her a huge entourage.

In his speech on Tuesday, the President reaffirmed his commitment to rid his government of corruption.

“I will stop corruption. I fired several people now but I just refused to reveal their identities,” Duterte said.

In a chance interview on Wednesday, Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella could not confirm if Duterte was referring to Sereno.

“Antayin na lang natin kung meron man pero linawin natin kung anuman ang nature ng pasaring.Antayin na lang natin kung anong magiging malinaw (Let’s just wait but we have to clarify the nature of such an innuendo. Let’s wait how it will unfold),” Abella told reporters.

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