Gordon asks Pacquiao to file reso, give Senate panel specific facts on corruption claims

Robie de Guzman   •   July 7, 2021   •   511

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Richard Gordon on Wednesday called on Senator Manny Pacquiao to provide specific details and documents that would enable the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to launch an investigation into his allegations of corruption in various government agencies.

In a statement, Gordon said Pacquiao has yet to file a resolution or request for an investigation regarding his corruption claims.

“Investigation of corruption cases must proceed but my committee cannot investigate based merely on newspaper accounts. I have neither received any request nor has any Resolution been filed regarding Senator Manny Pacquiao’s allegations. Moreover, no documents have been shared with us,” he said.

Despite this, Gordon, who chairs the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, assured that he will not shirk his duties and responsibilities.

He also said that Pacquiao’s claims, like any other allegations, should be taken seriously.

“But before we can even think of proceeding, the Blue Ribbon must know what it will be specifically investigating. It cannot go willy-nilly into any battlefield without knowledge of the what, the who, the how, the when, and the damage it caused the government. Unfortunately, we have yet to see the specificity of the allegations,” the senator said.

While the Senate panel may call for a motu proprio investigation, Gordon said that he needs to see specific facts surrounding the alleged offenses committed.

“In legal parlance, I need a bill of particulars to be fair to all concerned. The tremendous powers of the Blue Ribbon Committee cannot be exercised in a cavalier fashion that could only lead to abuse. We are not in the business of chasing ghosts. We are in the business of doing what is right,” he said.

In the meantime, Gordon said he has instructed the Blue Ribbon staff to get in touch with the authorities to find out whether there is “smoke and fire” that is right behind it.

“If there is basis, I will not hesitate to act and do what is right,” he said.

Pacquiao over the weekend claimed that there was corruption in the budget for COVID-19 response of some government agencies, particularly the Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Energy, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

He then left for the United States to train for his boxing match in August.

He did not present documents but said he has a witness to prove irregularities in aid disbursement. He also promised to present more corruption allegations after he returns from his boxing bout.

The agencies accused of corruption have all expressed their willingness to cooperate with any probe.

Duterte backs call for Ombudsman probe on Pharmally issue

Maris Federez   •   October 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte supports a call for the Office of the Ombudsman to conduct an investigation on the government’s alleged anomalous procurement of pandemic supplies.

The president was referring to the appeal of the Philippine College of Physicians for the Ombudsman to file appropriate cases against all those accountable in the controversial multibillion-peso deals between the government and Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp.

“We welcome the call of the Philippine College of Physicians that this matter should be immediately given to our courts and the Ombudsman. We have been saying this for the longest time and we all know that the Senate cannot prosecute. Mabuti pa ang mga doktor alam at naintindihan nila,” Duterte said.

“File cases is the right way to go. Stop using this issue in aid of election. Problema kasi sa Senate natin trying hard maghanap ng mga issue na may nangungurakot o kaya may nagkakapera,” he added.

The chief executive stated that, to date, the Senate Blue Ribbon committee has yet to build a case out of the hearings it has conducted, pointing out that that the said government deal was consistent with Republic Act (RA) 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act and RA 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One-Act.

“And so we go back now to what has been established many times, walang overpricing […} legal ang naging proseso ng pagbili, according to what has been provided by Bayanihan 1. Na-deliver lahat at binayaran nang pagkatapos na-deliver,” the president insisted.

Duterte also dared the Senate to bring the matter to the proper courts.

“And if you think that you have identified companies with tax issues, then file the appropriate cases. Matagal na naman namin sinasabi, kasuhan niyo ang mga dapat kasuhan. Lahat naman talaga dapat magbayad ng buwis at kung kailangan magbayad, singilan para magbayad iyong may mga atraso sa gobyerno kagaya ni Senator Gordon,” Duterte said.

“Eh you call my memorandum ‘stupid?’ Well, I challenge you: bring your arguments to the proper court and I will answer you,” he further stated.

The president also slammed Senator Richard Gordon for threatening to cut the budget of the executive department if the officials will not attend the Blue Ribbon’s hearings, calling it a blatant abuse of power.

“You threaten the budget of different agencies of the Executive because the officials refuse to attend to your hearings. Ito ‘yung mga pang-abuso talaga itong masabi ko sa gobyerno — sa gobyerno ‘pag ka demokrasya, itong separation of powers, co-equal and everything; and they threatened to paralyze government,” Duterte said.

“I challenge you, do it. ‘Pag ka ‘yung mga hearing reduce the budget by one third, hinahamon ko kayo, gawain ninyo ‘yan,” he added. —/mbmf

DOJ chief defends Duterte memo barring Cabinet execs from attending Senate panel probe

Robie de Guzman   •   October 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Wednesday defended President Rodrigo Duterte’s memorandum prohibiting officials and employees from the Executive Department from attending hearings conducted by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on contracts between the government and the Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation.

During a hearing by the Senate finance committee on the DOJ’s 2022 proposed budget, Guevarra said the memo does not seek to defy the congressional authority to hold legislative inquiries.

“To me, the objective or the essence of this memo is not to defy your authority or prerogative but to protest the manner the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearings has been conducted during the past few weeks,” he said.

He also pointed out that the memo was only confined to a particular probe.

The memorandum order signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea covers specifically the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee’s legislative inquiries into the Commission on Audit report flagging the alleged deficiencies in COVID-19 pandemic spending.

Guevarra clarified that he was not involved in the drafting of the memo but he believes that the main concern may be the amount of time that Cabinet officials spend in the hearing.

The hearings that have since spanned to Duterte’s appointees and other individuals, have been going on for two months.

Guevarra said that this period should have been enough for lawmakers to see if there is any law that needs to be amended or enacted, or some legal provisions that need to be repealed.

He also said he is willing to speak to Medialdea to discuss the memo but stressed that the Senate panel should also make some adjustments as to the manner and timing of the attendance of officials from the Executive branch..

Some groups, including the Philippine Bar Association, have called on Duterte to reconsider his memo as it upsets the system of checks and balances in the government.

Manny Pacquiao files COC for president with Lito Atienza as VP for 2022 polls

Robie de Guzman   •   October 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Manny Pacquiao on Friday formalized his bid to seek the presidency in the 2022 national and local elections.

Pacquiao filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) for the May 2022 polls with Buhay party-list Representative Lito Atienza as his running mate.

Pacquiao was accompanied by his wife, Jinkee, and Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel when he filed his COC around 8:53 a.m.

 In a press conference after his COC filing, Pacquiao said he and Atienza will run under the PROMDI Party and not PDP-Laban due to infighting with the faction led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.

He said the PROMDI Party is included in the MP3 alliance forged with the People’s Champ Movement and the PDP-Laban.

“Sapagkat may problema po ang ating partido na PDP, minabuti na lang po, napagkasunduan po na PROMDI ang gagamitin naming partido,” he said.

Pacquiao also explained on why he tapped Atienza as his running mate for the coming polls.

“More than 50 years ang kanyang pagseserbisyo sa taumbayan, at nakita ko yung sinseridad niya, at eksperto niya at hangarin na makatulong sa sambayanan hindi lamang nung sa Metro Manila nung kapanahunan niya kung paano niya binago ang lungsod ng Maynila,” he said.

Pacquiao and Atienza are the first aspirants to file their COCs for presidency and vice-presidency, respectively for the 2022 polls.

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