Malacañang on Friday refuted rumors that President Rodrigo Duterte allegedly sacked Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu for corruption, saying the latter resigned due to health reasons.

The rumors started circulating after Duterte broached in an anti-insurgency task force meeting that he had fired members of his Cabinet who were involved in corruption.

“When I became president, I heard reports of corruption. So si Secretary Sampulna is new because I fired them all,” the president said.

He was referring to new Environment Secretary Jim Sapulna who replaced Cimatu.

Duterte said he had fired at least five Cabinet members because of their involvement in corruption.

“Maski kaibigan tayo, I have fired—hindi lang ninyo alam, hindi kasi ako mahilig magpa-announce sa media—in the process, five Cabinet members o six because of corruption,” he said.

Despite the president’s statements, Acting Palace spokesman Martin Andanar said Duterte did not insinuate that he fired Cimatu over corruption.

“(President Duterte) in numerous occasions commended former Secretary Cimatu in the successful transformation and clean-up of Boracay and Manila Bay,” Andanar said.

“There is therefore no truth to the insinuation and /or rumor of his involvement in corruption,” he added. John Ezekiel J. Hirro