Duterte says Cabinet members 'all clean', claims corruption in Senate

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 16 2021 10:50 AM | Updated as of Sep 16 2021 11:32 AM

President Rodrigo Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malacañang Palace on Sept. 13, 2021. Toto Lozano, Presidential Photo
President Rodrigo Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malacañang Palace on Sept. 13, 2021. Toto Lozano, Presidential Photo

MANILA (UPDATE) — President Rodrigo Duterte said his Cabinet members are "all clean" as he fired back allegations of corruption at the Senate, which is looking into contracts that government awarded during the COVID-19 crisis.

Duterte said there was "no overpricing" and "no ghost deliveries as some senators were implying." 

"I would be lying if I say there is no corruption. In some other offices now, agencies, department, there are. But I’m making you this guarantee, ‘yong Cabinet members ko wala ‘yan. Puro malinis ‘yan," he said in a taped meeting with officials that aired on Thursday.

(But I’m making you this guarantee, my Cabinet has none. They are all clean.)
 
"Ang mga senador, meron. [Sen. Richard] Gordon is one," the President continued, referring to the leader of the Senate probe.

(There is corruption among senators. Gordon is one.) 

Duterte then instructed the Office of the Solicitor General to write the Commission on Audit and ask it to look into the finances of the Philippine Red Cross, which Gordon chairs.

Video courtesy of PTV

The COA had said it has no jurisdiction over the humanitarian organization as it is not a government agency. He said COA could only look into the state medical insurer's payments to the Red Cross for running COVID-19 tests.

 
The PRC has said it "merely stepped up" when authorities failed to address the need for COVID-19 testing, which it said "should be the job of government."

The PRC Board of Governors, in a statement, said it does not receive any funds from the government. 

It added that the PRC is audited by a private and international accounting firm, which has spotted no anomalies with the organization's handling of funds from numerous donors.

Gordon, meanwhile, said Duterte was "covering his tracks [and] trying to protect his people" with his tirades. 
 
"Sabi niya na natatakot na ako? Susmaryosep, Gordon, hindi mo ako matakot, not in a million years," said Duterte. "Hindi ako kawatan kagaya mo, wala akong Red Cross na ginagatasan araw-araw. It's not my style."

(He said I am afraid? Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Gordon, you cannot scare me, not in a million years. I am not a thief like you. I don't have a Red Cross that I am milking every day.)

SENATORS PUSH BACK 

Duterte remarks are "designed to lose our (Senate) focus," Gordon said. 

"We are totally focused. Evidence is very overwhelming and strong," he told reporters. 

Senate President Vicente Sotto III meanwhile said investigating and uncovering the truth "never brought any harm to a nation."

"Senators are not prosecutors. We simply ask questions and recommend. The executive and the Ombudsman prosecute, not us," he said. 

"We will not be distracted," added Sen. Franklin Drilon.