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Philippines’ Duterte orders graft probe across state agencies

MANILA — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Tuesday he had ordered the justice ministry to launch a sweeping investigation into graft across all government agencies, conceding that his country continued to be “plagued with corruption.”

In 2016, Duterte won the presidency campaigning on a promise to fight corruption, crime and illegal drugs.

But his administration has been dogged by scandals and allegations of graft and cover-ups in state agencies ranging from prisons, the state insurer, immigration, airports and customs, to police and the drugs enforcement agency, few of which led to convictions or high-profile resignations.

Duterte on Tuesday issued a memorandum directing the justice ministry to look into anomalies at state agencies until the end of his term in 2022. It gives the ministry the power to decide what allegations to investigate and to work with other agencies.

“This country continues to be plagued with corruption,” Duterte said in a televised national address. “Up to now, it is not weakening, it is getting stronger,” he said, vowing to focus his remaining term on fighting corruption.

The Philippines fell 14 notches to 113th spot among 180 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index last year.

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