Duterte warns 'friends' in office against corruption

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 23) — President Rodrigo Duterte said he is willing to let go of certain friendships if it meant standing firm against corruption.

"I value friendship. Make no mistake about it. But it has its limit. This is a lonely place I am in," he said during his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday. "Do not make it lonelier by forcing me to end our friendship because you gave me a reason to end it."

He said he had several friends and former political allies whom he chose to dismiss or pushed to resign. In his two years in office, Duterte had let go of some officials over corruption allegations, while others — such as former Dangerous Drugs Board Chairman Dionisio Santiago and Labor Undersecretary Dominador Say — left their posts ahead of getting the boot. Former Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo also resigned amid reports she was about to be fired, following a P65-million advertisement scandal with government channel PTV-4.

He urged officials to stop corrupt practices that affect the public and earnest officials.

"It saps the morale or the morale of dedicated and honest government workers. Corruption destroys those who succumb to its temptation and eventually it is the innocent who will suffer and bear its horrible consequences," he said.

Duterte added, "One day, justice will catch up with those who steal government funds. And when that day comes, it will be the public who will have its retribution."

The President ordered government agencies to stop red tape by simplifying the process of doing business and making services customer friendly.

In May, Duterte has signed into law an act that aims to cut down red tape in government transactions, including processing applications for business permits, passports, and licenses.

Related: Duterte signs law cutting down red tape for business permits