MANILA (UPDATE)—Sen. Panfilo Lacson did not mince words in criticizing President Rodrigo Duterte for saying the public should not believe the results of inquiries into government corruption under his administration.
"Kaya naman hindi nakakasuhan ang ilang matataas na opisyal na naging subject sa pag-iimbestiga namin ay dahil ipinagtatanggol niya sa halip na makasuhan," he told Teleradyo Friday.
(That's why some high-ranking officials, which became subject of our investigation, were not charged because he defends them instead of filing cases against them.)
Lacson reminded the President that pressing charges is not the Senate's job.
"Function ng executive branch 'yun. Judiciary naman ang magpapakulong. Mahirap bang i-memorize 'yun?" he said in a separate statement.
(It's the function of the executive branch. The judiciary then decides the prison sentence. It's that hard to memorize?)
In a taped public address aired late Thursday, Duterte criticized some senators for "posturing," calling on the public not to believe their investigation, which he added only led to "nothing".
"'Wag ho kayong maniwala diyan sa mga imbestigasyon-imbestigasyon. Kita naman ninyo walang nangyayari. Puro lang 'we will investigate' investigate. Pagkatapos niyan...It begins with a bluster," he said.
(Do not believe those investigations. You see, nothing happens. It's just 'we will investigate' then after that...It begins with a bluster.)
Duterte said the public should instead believe him when he say there was no corruption in government.
"Sabi ko sa inyo, mga kababayan ko, nagsasabi kami dito ng totoo. At malaman ninyo nang malaman kung kami ay nagkakamali. Hindi natatago 'yan," he said.
(I told you, my countrymen, we are telling the truth here. You will know if we do something wrong. You cannot hide that.)
For Lacson, the President should instead focus on his administration's "shortcomings".
"Ang asikasuhin niya ay ang mga kakulangan ng sangay ng gobyerno na kanyang pinamumunuan na hitik sa incompetence at corruption hindi lang sa pagtugon sa pandemya kundi sa maraming aspeto ng governance," he said.
(He should instead focus his time on the shortcomings of his administration due to incompetence and corruption of several of his officials, not only in addressing the pandemic but in the many aspects of governance.)
Due to Senate investigations, Lacson stressed that the country was able to pass several laws, including Republic Act 11053 or the Anti-Hazing Act of 2018.
In 2018, Congress ratified the bill following hearings on the death of a law freshman from the University of Santo Tomas, he said.
The senator also refuted Duterte for saying he doesn't lie to the Filipino public.
"Siya na mismo nagsabi na bakit siya pinaniwalaan ng mga bumoto sa kaniya at tinawag niyang istupido na siyay magje-jetski papunta dun sa West Philippine Sea?" he said.
(He said it himself that why people believed in him and called them stupid for promising to ride a jet ski to the West Philippine Sea?)
In May, Duterte said his supposed election promise to ride a jet ski to challenge Chinese incursion in Philippine waters was a "pure joke" and that those who believed it were "stupid."
Senate President Tito Sotto III also opposed Duterte's claim.
He said he would send to Duterte the result of the Senate investigation on alleged corruption in PhilHealth, which the upper House concluded in August.
"Most of his appointed officers have now pending cases and were removed because of the Senate investigation," he said in a statement.
"As far as I know, the Ombudsman usually relies on Senate investigations and reports for their preliminary investigations," Sotto added.