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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Pacquiao accuses 4 agencies of corruption

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Boxed into a corner with no less than President Rodrigo Duterte taunting him to unmask the corrupt activities he claimed have tripled under the present administration, Senator Manny Pacquiao pulled no punches in naming at least four government agencies where he claimed anomalous transactions continue—the departments of Social Welfare, Health, Energy and Environment.

Pacquiao accuses 4 agencies of corruption
Senator Manny Pacquiao presents piles of documents to the media – allegedly showing proof of corruption in at least four agencies – the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Health, Department of Energy and Department of Environment and Natural Resources – in a Zoom press conference Saturday before leaving for the United States to prepare for his boxing match with Errol Spence Jr.

In a Zoom press conference Saturday, Pacquiao presented to the media piles of documents which he claimed would prove the corrupt practices in government, adding he will file a resolution to seek a Blue Ribbon Committee investigation on the matter.

“It is not my intention to make the President angry,” he said.

“But just like the President, I was also trusted by 15 million Filipinos, and like him, I have obligations to our nation. Please don’t get mad, Mr. President, because I am also trying to help you get rid of corruption, which is the root of poverty in our country. Corruption is the cancer of our society.”

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Where is P10.4 billion ayuda?

Pacquiao questioned the P50 billion contract entered into by the Department of Social Welfare and Development with e-wallet app Starpay, which he said only had a paid-up capital of P62,000.

He said P14 billion was released to Starpay for the disbursement of social amelioration funds of some 1.8 million beneficiaries.

“You have to download the Starpay app to get the funds. Only 500,000 people downloaded the app, yet they are claiming to have released funds to 1.8 million beneficiaries. What happened to the 1.3 million who did not receive the funds? Where did the P10.4 billion funds go?”

Asked how high the alleged anomaly goes, Pacquiao demurred, but said it will be “exciting” to untangle the web of corruption involving DSWD and Starpay during the Blue Ribbon hearing.

Nearly expired medicines, questionable power contract

The senator also accused the Department of Health of buying nearly expired medicines at regular prices.

“The price should be much lower because these are nearly expired medicines,” he said. “I am going through several documents that detail the corruption in DOH, and I will make these public at the right time.”

Pacquiao also questioned the decision of the Department of Energy – led by Sec. Alfonso Cusi with whom he is at loggerheads with at the PDP-Laban party – to authorize the private firm Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines to become a power stock market operator when it only had a paid-up capital of P7,000.

“From a paid-up capital of only P7,000, IEMOP became an instant billion-peso company in just one year,” Pacquiao said.

He said some of the documents he has collated—none of which he showed to the media—also pointed to corrupt activities in the Department of Environment and Natural Resource, but the senator did not elaborate.

Rehashed accusations

Cusi, for his part, said the IEMOP issue was already old hat.

“If Sen. Pacquiao did his assignment, he will learn that all the issues that he raised are rehashed and have been subjected to a full Congressional inquiry by the Lower House. The DOE has fully and comprehensively discussed and explained properly the propriety and legitimacy of IEMOP. The DOE welcomes the accusations of Sen. Pacquiao and is ready to answer these in any forum,” Cusi said.

The DSWD said it is also willing to cooperate should the Blue Ribbon probe proceed.

“DSWD is willing to face any investigating body and present the necessary evidence/ documents to clarify those raised by the good Senator. In fact, the agency has attended several congressional hearings relative to the SAP implementation,” said DSWD spokesperson Irene Dumlao.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III denied the government is buying nearly expired medicines since the practice is not allowed under the guidelines of the Food and Drug Administration and in accordance with the Procurement Law.

“We will have this allegation investigated as soon as Sen. Manny Pacquiao sends us evidence and documents regarding the purported anomalous transactions and get concerned officials and employees to account for their violations if proven true,” Duque said.

Political slugfest

As the rift between Paquiao and the Duterte administration seems to widen, the senator – an eight-division world boxing champion – said he is ready to face any attempt to remove him as president of the ruling party PDP-Laban.

“I am not an acting president. I am the legitimate president of PDP because it was a succession. Any change in leadership must be triggered only if there is a violation. We must all follow the constitution and by-laws of the party,” he said.

Pacquiao said while PDP-Laban counts among its members some 5,000 elected officials, it has 100,000 other members across the country.

And since he does not acknowledge and therefore will not attend the July 17 meeting being organized by Cusi, Pacquiao said he will call for a national assembly of the PDP-Laban in September.

“I liken our situation to the story of King Solomon. The fake mother wanted to divide the child into two, but the real mother will not allow such a thing to happen. That is what Cusi wants to achieve – divide the party because they do not have real malasakit for the party,” he said.

“I am doing all I can to unite the members and strengthen the party. In unity, there is our victory. We fail if we are divided; we will succeed if we are united.”

“But if they want to use the party as just a stepping stone – not in my time. That is my warning to you,” Pacquiao added.

‘Do not lose hope, Mr. President’

Pacquiao, however, reiterated that he remains an ally and a supporter of Duterte, especially in the latter’s campaign against corruption.

“Do not lose hope, Mr. President. I am here to help you. I know you also abhor corruption,” he said.

“Do not be discouraged, Mr. President. I am with you in this fight against corruption,” the senator added.

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