Palace denies Duterte protecting allies with silence on corrupt lawmakers

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 24 2020 03:18 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte skims through a document as he presides over a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) prior to his talk to the people at the Arcadia Active Lifestyle Center in Davao City, Nov. 23, 2020. Joey Dalumpines, Presidential Photo 

MANILA — Malacañang denied Tuesday that President Rodrigo Duterte's refusal to name allegedly corrupt lawmakers was meant to protect his allies. 

The list of "corrupt" congressmen from the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) involves those who supposedly get kickbacks from rigged biddings for government projects that favored contractors win, said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque. 

"Ang dami pong mga ebidensyang kinakailangan na hindi naman po hawak ng Presidente na personal," he told reporters. 

(There are many pieces of evidence needed that the President does not personally hold.)
 
"Because this is an issue of evidence, mas mabuting mag-imbestiga ay ang Ombudsman, dahil ang hurisdiksyon nito ay lahat ng tao ng gobyerno," he added. 

(Because this is an issue of evidence, it is better for the Ombudsman to investigate because it has jurisdiction over all government workers.)

Asked if Duterte kept mum to protect allies, Roque said, "Hindi po. Ang tingin ko po it's evidentiary."

(No. I think it's evidentiary.)
 

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Duterte said Monday he had no right to investigate the lawmakers as they belong to a different branch of government. 

However, jailed Sen. Leila De Lima said executive agencies were responsible for investigating and filing charges against lawmakers who were allegedly involved in the pork barrel scam. 

"Paki-review po ng Political Law nyo," she said on Twitter. 

(Please review your political law.)

Roque only replied, "Pagbigyan n'yo na, walang makausap iyong ale." 

(Just let her be, the woman has no one to talk to.)

Duterte won the presidency in 2016 campaigning on a promise to fight corruption, crime, and illegal drugs.

But his administration has been dogged by scandals and allegations of graft and cover-ups in state agencies ranging from prisons, the state insurer, immigration, airports and customs, to police and the drug enforcement agency, few of which led to convictions or high-profile resignations. 

Last month, Duterte ordered the justice department to investigate the "entire government" for corruption. 

"I will concentrate the last remaining years of my term fighting corruption kasi hanggang ngayon, hindi humihina, lumalakas pa lalo. Para na tuloy naging inutil ang mga opisyal ng bayan, na wala talagang magawa with the onslaught of corruption," he said. 

(Until now, it has not weakened, it grows even stronger. It is as if all officials are are inutile, useless against the onslaught of corruption.) 

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The Philippines fell 14 notches to 113th spot among 180 countries in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index last year.

The President, 75, is not eligible for re-election, but fulfilling his campaign pledge on corruption might help the chances of his chosen successor in the 2022 elections.