MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on late Tuesday alleged that former lawmaker Antonio Trillanes IV and Sen. Emmanuel Pacquiao, who have separately accused him of corruption, both just "want to hold power."
Duterte in several recent occasions has lambasted Pacquiao, his erstwhile close ally, after the latter claimed that the government is 3 times more corrupt than its predecessors.
Outspoken critic Trillanes, meanwhile, revived corruption allegations against the President, saying he and his former longtime aide Sen. Christopher Go allegedly plundered some P6 billion from public coffers.
"Si Trillanes pareha ni Pacquiao ‘yan," Duterte said in a televised late night public address.
"They want to, you know, hold power because they must have—may nakita siguro silang magandang oportunidad nila para sa kanila," he added.
(Trillanes is the same as Pacquiao. They want to, you know, hold power because they must have seen a good opportunity for them.)
Addressing his chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo, the President said, "Well, I leave Trillanes to you."
"Ikaw na ang bahala sa kanya kung anuhin mo ‘yan. Eh daldal nang daldal ‘yan eh hindi naman lumaban ng debate ‘yan," Duterte continued.
(It's up to you, if you will—he keeps blubbering, but does not fight in debates.)
Duterte, Go, and their allies have denied the corruption claims against them, which they dismissed as politically motivated.
Trillanes had said he would run for president in 2022, if Vice President Leni Robredo backs out.
Pacquiao, meanwhile, has been rumored to be eyeing the presidency.
However, supporters of the President are pushing his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, to succeed her father.
Duterte also announced last week that the public should "consider" him as "a candidate for the vice presidency" in the 2022 elections "at this time."
Duterte in 2016 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.
The Philippines also fell 14 notches to 113th spot among 180 countries in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index in 2019. Last year, the country slipped to more spots to 115th.
— With a report from Reuters