Duterte to corrupt officials: I will reach you

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 25) — In the last year of his term, President Rodrigo Duterte said he is not giving up on his promise of ridding government of corrupt officials.

In his last State of the Nation Address on Monday, he said, "I will reach you."

Going off-script, the President recalled summoning to Malacañang a number of officials from the Bureau of Immigration allegedly involved in the so-called pastillas scheme.

He said they were given pastillas that had money rolled inside and dared them to eat it. However, according to the President, he did not insist on the punishment out of deference to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, who was also present. 

READ: SONA 2021: Duterte's anti-corruption legacy: What he said he'll do vs. what he's actually done

Duterte said his office has "demonstrated careful stewardship of the power by initiating reforms" to provide the best service to benefit the Filipino people.

The Freedom of Information Act was also instituted, he said, so the public could see records of transaction. Along with the FOI, the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission was also created to "run after corrupt and erring officials and bring them to justice."

READ: Duterte touts passage of FOI bill, but his wealth report stays a secret

However, the President recognized the challenge of deeply rooted corruption in government.

"Corruption is endemic in government. You cannot stop corruption, unless you overturn government completely," he said.

The President mentioned a drastic measure which he believed could wipe the slate clean.

"If I were the next president, if you think there is a need for you to change everybody in the system, then you declare martial law and fire everybody and allow the next generation to come in to work for government," he said.

During his weekly addresses, Duterte used to read the names of officials accused of corruption. However, he said he has refrained from doing so because it would negatively affect their families.

"Ngayon, wala na [I don't do it anymore]. I have stopped it. But this is not saying we cannot reimpose it again," he said.