President Rodrigo Duterte was unaware that the 43 immigration officials involved in the “pastillas” scam had yet to be fired, his spokesman said on Thursday.

Duterte, during his final State of the Nation Address, took pride in saying that he “fired all” the personnel who allowed the entry of foreign nationals without passing through the normal immigration process and screening in exchange for money.

On Wednesday, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the 47 officials were merely suspended and already back on duty.

“Their six-month preventive suspension has lapsed. They have reported for work at the main office, not at their previous assignments in the airport terminals. Those who were under job order arrangements have been terminated,” Guevarra told reporters.

“The Office of the Ombudsman and the Department of Justice are winding up their investigations,” he added.

Palace spokesman Harry Roque said Duterte did not know that the personnel were merely suspended.

“Siguro po, obvious ang sagot, hindi po siguro alam ni presidente, hindi pa sila nasisisante; ang alam lang niya, nasuspinde,” he said in a Palace briefing.

“Siguro po ang epekto ng kanyang mga binitawang salita, iyan po ay mandato… na masisante iyan sa lalong mabilis na panahon. Hindi po katanggap-tanggap iyong ginawa nilang pastillas scheme; kinakailangan po talaga sibakin sila,” he added. John Ezekiel J. Hirro