MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte has said he would not have been elected as Philippine leader if he were corrupt, as he again scored lawmakers for looking into government transactions during the COVID-19 crisis.
Duterte said state auditors have clarified there was no overpricing in supplies from Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp., which has alleged ties to his former economic adviser.
"Iyong sinasabi ninyo ako ang abogado [ng Pharmally], lumang tugtugin na iyan. Sa totoo lang, sabi ko, I would not be President Duterte kung corrupt ako gaya ninyo," he said in a taped speech that aired on Wednesday.
(You say that I am lawyering for Pharmally, that's an old tune. In truth, I said, I would not be President Duterte if I were corrupt like you.)
Addressing lawmakers leading the probe, Duterte added, "Hindi ako aabot sa presidency, from my mayorship to the presidency, kung corrupt ako kagaya ninyo, kung tumatanggap ako ng mga p***** ***, mga campaign funds d'yan sa mga tao na alam n'yo gumagawa ng kalokohan kasama iyang mga miyembro ng Congress."
(I would not have reached the presidency, from my mayorship to the presidency, if I were corrupt like you, if I accept campaign funds from people who you know do nonsense with members of Congress.)
Video courtesy of PTV
Lawmakers can "crumple" Pharmally even with a year-long probe, he said.
"Wag lang iyong mga empleyado sa executive department, mga Cabinet members na pupunta doon, paupuin, hindi naman tatawagin. Tapos kung tatawagin, bastusin. Doon kami nagkadiperensya," Duterte said.
(Just don't include employees of the executive department, Cabinet members who you ask to go there, sit, and then don't call on. And if you call them, you are rude. That is where we had a problem.)
High-profile academic, business and religious organizations earlier urged government cooperation in the probe "to the fullest extent allowed by law."
The investigation follows the state auditor's flagging of P67 billion in "deficiencies" in how supply contracts were handled. The funds were allocated to cover benefits of health workers and medical supplies.
Duterte last month ordered Cabinet members to refrain from appearing in Senate hearings. His government has denied misuse of the funds.
Duterte, 76, was elected on promises to eliminate graft completely. He cannot seek a second term and was expected to run for vice president next year before he announced his retirement from politics.
— With a report from Reuters