MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night said he has no authority to investigate lawmakers accused of corruption.
In his weekly briefing with Cabinet secretaries, Duterte said he has received a list of names of "corrupt" congressmen from the Commissioner Greco Belgica of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC).
Duterte, however, explained he has no right to investigate the lawmakers as they belong to a different branch of government.
"Alam mo, let's go to political law. I have no business investigating congressmen. They belong to a separate organ of government which is co-equal with the president pati ang Supreme Court," Duterte explained.
"Ngayon kung itapon mo sa akin, I have no other recourse, itapon ko din 'yan sa Ombudsman," he added, referring to Belgica's list.
(If you pass that to me, I have no other recourse but to pass it on to the Office of the Ombudsman.)
Duterte also said that he is not playing safe by not publicizing the names of said lawmakers, reiterating that they belong to different branches of government and are considered co-equals.
"I cannot investigate congressmen. It will be an encroachment of the separation of powers. Hindi ako puwede (I cannot investigate them)," he said.
"If I cannot investigate the congressmen, then I have no authority to be releasing their names that they are involved per investigation by the PACC," Duterte added.
Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the government's task force against corruption and its member agencies can publicize the names of the lawmakers.
"It's not the congressmen himself who is being investigated. In different perspective, if it's a particular transaction being investigated, for example, by the PACC or the task force against corruption," he said during the briefing.
"And in the course of the investigation it will turn out that some members of the legislature is involved in a particular corrupt practice or transaction, I think it is within the power of the task force to mention these members of Congress who are allegedly involved," he added.
In late October, President Rodrigo Duterte issued a memorandum directing the DOJ to look into anomalies in state agencies until the end of his term in 2022.
The memo gave the DOJ the power to decide what allegations to investigate and to work with other agencies.
Guevarra earlier said the "mega" task force has already received at least 60 complaints in the past few weeks.