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Duterte removes NEA chief Masongsong over graft charges

President Rodrigo Duterte has announced that he dismissed National Electrification Administrator (NEA) Edgardo Masongsong from service due to graft allegations.

“We’ve been talking about corruption. Alam mo may bago akong, the name is Edgardo Masongsong, of NEA. I dismissed him from public service,” Duterte said in a taped briefing aired Saturday morning.

He said that the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) recommended the removal of Masongsong as NEA chief.

This move, he said, is a part of the administration’s anti-corruption drive, noting that the public is getting "skeptical and cynical” about his promise to eliminate graft within the government.

“I’m sorry, but as I said, people are really skeptic and cynic about our desire to improve the government service,” he said.

“Endemic ang corruption. But from time to time, ito, we were given the opportunity to show to the people, again we are not bragging about it, but we are trying our best to cope up with ...  graft and corruption in our government. Nasingit ko lang ito just to show to the people,” Duterte added.

Following the latest Commission on Audit reports, Duterte said there is a need to “correct” the public’s perception as it will “destroy the faith of the people in the government.”

“It is very important that the people [are] informed and must realize that we are a working government and we do, as I said, not proclaim that it is graft-free. We are trying our very best to cope up,” he said.

Allegations baseless

In response to Duterte's announcement of his dismissal from service, Masongsong insisted that the allegations of graft against him are baseless.

However, he acknowledged that he has been relieved from his post due to allegations of corruption.

“These are allegations that I have addressed in the course of the PACC's inquiry into these accusations, and the records will show that I have fully cooperated with the PACC––fully confident in the knowledge that these allegations are baseless, and that if granted due process and the opportunity to defend myself I can establish that I am innocent of any wrongdoing,” Masongsong said.

During his presidential campaign in 2016, Duterte promised to eradicate corruption in the government, but in his final State of the Nation Address, he admitted that the problem on graft is still persistent.—LBG, GMA News