MANILA - Sen. Manny Pacquiao on Thursday defended Sen. Panfilo Lacson against online attacks for his grilling of several presidential appointees and administration officials who were linked to irregularities in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth).
Instead of attacking Lacson, "vicious trolls" and administration supporters should be "thankful" to the former Philippine National Police chief for providing President Rodrigo Duterte "unadulterated facts" about alleged anomalies in PhilHealth, Pacquiao said in a statement.
"Huwag naman sanang masamain itong mga ginagawang pagbubuyag ni Senator Lacson (Don't take what Senator Lacson is doing negatively). He is just doing his job," Pacquiao said.
"He is an active partner of President Duterte in the fight to clean the government of irregularities," the fighting senator said.
Those supposedly bashing Lacson and other senators are apparently complaining that they have held several investigations that do not necessarily lead to systemic reforms or the removal of corrupt officials from public office.
Pacquiao explained that under the law, the Senate can only investigate in aid of legislation, and submit recommendations to the executive branch.
"It is the President who has the sole power to fire erring officials in his administration," said Pacquaio, a key Duterte ally.
"It is up to the President to appreciate the recommendations of the Senate and we would not take it as an offense if in the end he sees things differently," he said.
Lacson earlier showed evidence that PhilHealth regional officials disbursed some P9.7 million to a rural bank beyond their jurisdiction, "even without demands" for reimbursement.
The senator was also among the lawmakers who questioned PhilHealth's procurement of allegedly overpriced tech equipment, and the agency's decision to disburse billions of COVID-19 funds to clinics not catering to coronavirus patients.