Duterte says he's running for senator over displeasure at Senate's Pharmally probe

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 18 2021 06:53 PM | Updated as of Nov 18 2021 07:09 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte in a phone conversation at the Malacañang Palace on Nov. 17, 2021. King Rodriguez, Presidential Photo/file
President Rodrigo Duterte in a phone conversation at the Malacañang Palace on Nov. 17, 2021. King Rodriguez, Presidential Photo/file

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said he is seeking a seat in the Senate because of his displeasure over the way it investigated alleged anomalies in government's pandemic transactions. 

Duterte said that while senators can "crumple" Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corp, which bagged billions of pesos in medical supply deals, lawmakers' treatment of government officials during the probe was a "different story." 

"‘Wag yong mga official ko na sigaw-sigawan mo. Tapos minsan paupuin mo si [Secretary Carlito] Galvez, alam mo na ang mga vaccines are being unloaded in the airport and he has to move fast, minsan, hindi siya nakakapunta, pati si [Health Secretary Francsico] Duque," Duterte said during the inauguration of seaport projects in Mindoro provinces.

(Do not shout at my officials. Sometimes, even when you know vaccines are being unloaded in the airport and Galvez has to move fast, you make him sit there and miss it, along with Duque.)

He also accused some lawmakers of interrupting resource persons while they were speaking. 

"Kaya ako tatakbo. Sabihin ko sila na there are rules in Congress, but there are fundamental laws. Gaya ng taga-gobyerno, hindi nila pasagutin, then at the end iyong theory nila, ’yon ang masunod," he said. 

(This is why I am running. I will tell them there are rules in Congress, but there are fundamental laws. For instance, government people who are barred from answering and in the end senators' theory would be followed.) 

Duterte maintained the transactions were legal and there was no overpricing. He said senators "might want to separate" the issue on Pharmally executives' alleged nonpayment of taxes. 

In October, Duterte banned his aides from attending the Pharmally probe, an order that Senate leaders challenged before the Supreme Court. 

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Malacañang on Tuesday denied Duterte is seeking a Senate seat supposedly to dodge the International Criminal Court's inquiry into killings under his anti-narcotics war.

"Wala namang kinalaman sa ICC case iyong desisyon ni Pangulong Duterte na tumakbo," said Duterte’s acting spokesman Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles. 

(The ICC case has nothing to do with the decision of President Duterte to run.) 

"Ang pagtakbo po ni Pangulong Duterte as senator ay dahil gusto po niyang magpatuloy ng kaniyang serbisyo sa taongbayan," he said in a press briefing. 

(His bid for the Senate is because he wants to continue serving the people.)

House Deputy Minority Leader Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate on Tuesday claimed Duterte and his allies were seeking government posts "that they can use as shield from the numerous cases coming their way" when the President steps down in June 2022. 

Gabriela Party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas called Duterte's last-minute filing of his candidacy for senator as "a desperate and vain attempt to evade prosecution" over his drug war and government's pandemic transactions.

Duterte had said last month he would quit politics after leaving the presidency and voters were kept guessing over both his and his daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio's intentions right up until Monday's deadline for changing candidates.

Despite last-ditch efforts by supporters to convince her to succeed her father, Duterte-Carpio is set to run for the vice presidency.

Duterte said he was not supporting the candidacy of his daughter's running-mate, the on and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. The President said he committed to back only his longtime aide Sen. Christopher Go. 

The Duterte patriarch is barred from seeking re-election as president. His 2 are sons running for congress and city mayor. 

— With a report from Reuters