President Rodrigo Duterte has accused Sen. Manny Pacquiao of being “punch-drunk” or exhibiting symptoms of confusion or being stupefied after the lawmaker accused the government of losing at least P10.4 billion in public funds due to corruption.
“Pacquiao is punch-drunk—you all have your cell phones so I will leave it up to you to look up its definition. To be talking about P10 billion lost from nowhere—You think COA [Commission on Audit] will allow this? You think we will allow this? That is a statement from a guy who is punch-drunk,” he said.
Pacquiao earlier questioned the contract awarded by the Department of Social Welfare and Development to e-wallet app Starpay for the disbursement of ayuda to some 1.8 million beneficiaries.
The senator said only 500,000 beneficiaries downloaded the app out of the 1.8 million beneficiaries that Starpay claimed to have served for a total funding of P14 billion.
“What happened to the 1.3 million who did not receive the funds? Where did the P10.4 billion funds go?” Pacquiao said in a press briefing before he left for the United States to train for his upcoming fight with Errol Spence Jr. next month.
Duterte, chairman of the PDP-Laban, is set to attend its national council meeting on July 17 that is expected to pave the way for the expulsion of Pacquio, the party's acting president, amid the widening rift inside the ruling party.
The Pacquiao wing last week issued a resolution expelling party vice chairman and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, deputy secretary general Melvin Matibag, and membership committee head Astra Naik.
Cusi, Matibag and Naik were accused of pushing for the presidential bid of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, who is not a member of the PDP-Laban.
Duterte, however, upheld the leadership of Cusi's camp, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.
“All I can say is the President recognizes the leadership of Sec. Cusi and that is why he will attend the party special meeting,” Roque said in an online briefing.
“All I can say is what the President has already said on the matter: 'We will resolve all existing disputes within PDP-Laban legally.' So let us just wait for what will happen next,” the Palace official added.
Pacquiao and Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III said they will not attend the July 17 meeting being organized by Cusi.