This picture taken on March 23, 2017 shows Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (AFP photo)
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has fired a key minister of his cabinet over his alleged involvement in corruption.
Duterte said Tuesday that Interior Minister Ismael Sueno, a key member of his controversial campaign on drugs, had been sacked over the anomalous purchase by the interior ministry of fire trucks from a foreign country.
Sueno’s removal from the post was decided during the cabinet meeting late on Monday. The 69-year-old has denied any wrongdoing and said in a statement he was not corrupt. He said the firetruck deal was approved by Duterte’s predecessor.
Duterte said the decision was in line with his previous promises about the need for the Philippines to be tough on corruption.
“It’s corruption … I do not have to belabor the point. Just remember my promises to the people: no corruption, drugs, criminality,” he said.
Sources in Duterte’s office would not elaborate whether charges would be brought up against Sueno.
“Let us wait for the president to take his subsequent actions,” Duterte’s spokesman Ernesto Abella said, adding, “The summary dismissal served as a warning that Mr Duterte would not countenance any questionable or legally untenable decisions by any member of the cabinet.”
Sueno is the second minister to quit the cabinet in less than two months. Perfecto Yasay, the former foreign minister, resigned last month after it was revealed that he had lied to the Congress about his US citizenship.
The Philippines’ former Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay (AFP photo)
Abella rejected claims that Duterte’s tough actions had cost his own government dearly, saying that the loss of another cabinet member was not a sign of trouble but a proof that the cabinet is serious in restoring trust in the government.
Duterte has faced international criticism over a massive anti-drug campaign he has led since taking office last May. Western governments and some rights groups allege that security forces have carried out thousands of extrajudicial killings during the campaign, which has gained huge popularity for Duterte at home.
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