There was a recent attempt to bribe Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, a presidential spokesman said on Tuesday (7 March) during a news conference at Malacañang, the president's official residence.

Without divulging any names, Ernesto Abella said that people involved in such crimes should be scared of Duterte who "puts priority on anti-crime, anti-corruption, and anti-illegal drugs". He warned that "law will come down full force" upon the guilty.

The spokesman dodged questions on whether the president will order an investigation into the case. However, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Secretary Salvador Panelo confirmed that the bribe attempt was allegedly made by Filipino Tobacco company Mighty Corporation.

He said, "During [the] Cabinet meeting last night, President Duterte said [the] owner of Mighty Cigarettes attempted to bribe him 'with millions'."

The company was reportedly accused of using fake tax stamps and the Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Caesar Dulay had ordered an investigation into the alleged scam. Panelo said that President Duterte was approached by the owner of Mighty Cigarettes, following which he ordered the arrest of the owner, GMA News reported.

Meanwhile, Abella also said that Duterte is set to sign a new executive order to ban smoking indoors, in addition to the existing ban on smoking in public. The revised order, drafted by the Department of Health was on the president's desk on Tuesday morning, the spokesman added.

Davao city, where Duterte was a mayor for more than two decades before assuming the presidential role, had a complete ban on smoking in public places, the Inquirer wrote.

Rodrigo Duterte
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte told a recent cabinet meeting that Tobacco company Mighty Corporation attempted to bribe him with millions - File photo Reuters/Ezra Acayan