MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday was heard commending Senator Manny Pacquiao for coming to the defense of police chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa over the latter’s all-expense paid trip to Las Vegas.
The Ombudsman launched a probe on Dela Rosa after the latter admitted to letting Pacquiao shoulder his and his family’s expenses in their trip to Las Vegas to see the senator’s bout with Mexican Jessie Vargas.
During Pacquiao’s courtesy call on the president, the latter was heard telling the lawmaker that he was right in defending the police chief.
“Tama yung pag-depensa mo kay ano, kay Bato. Ang dinonate mo yung skill mo. It is a donation kung sabihin mo pano niya makita yung skill mo,” Duterte was heard telling Pacquiao.
(You were right in defending Bato. What you donated was your skill. It’s a donation from you for you to be able to show your skills to him.)
“Iyung expenses kaya mo man, commensurate to your wealth. So ang binayaran mo doon para mapapanood niya ang skill mo. There is no criminal liability.”
(Your expenses were commensurate to your wealth. You paid for his trip with your skills. There is no criminal liability.)
In his latest comment on the controversy, Dela Rosa on Monday said he was willing to go to jail if it is proven that he violated the law.
The Ombudsman last week said it was investigating whether Dela Rosa violated the code of conduct for public officials when he watched Pacquiao's boxing match against Jessie Vargas at the lawmaker's expense.
"Kung talagang lalabas sa investigation na ako ay may kasalanang nagawa, then I’m ready to go to jail. Ikulong nila ako, okay lang sa akin. Magpapakulong ako, kung talagang ako’y nagkakamali," Dela Rosa told reporters.
(If the investigation determines that I was at fault, then I'm ready to go to jail. They can imprison me. It's okay. I will go to jail if I did something wrong.)
"Basta what is important is that I am honest, hindi po ako nagsisinungaling. Sinabi ko lang yung katotohanan para transparent tayo. Kung nagawa ko yun, I’m man enough to go to jail if proven guilty," he added.
(The important thing is I am honest. I didn't lie. I spoke the truth, for transparency. If I did that, I am man enough to go to jail if proven guilty.)
Dela Rosa was at ringside in Las Vegas last week when Pacquiao stopped Vargas to claim the World Boxing Organization welterweight championship.
Pacquiao reportedly bought some 2,000 tickets, worth almost $1 million, and flew in some of his friends from government to watch his comeback fight.
Pacquiao has repeatedly defended Dela Rosa over the trip, saying the Ombudsman should be focusing on real scandals, such as the alleged mismanagement of funds for Yolanda rehabilitation. - report from Zen Hernandez, ABS-CBN News