MANILA, Philippines — Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Red chair Sen. Richard Gordon on Tuesday said there is a big possibility President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is being misled by officials on the laundering of hundreds of millions of dollars hand carried into the country by dozens of Filipino and foreign couriers over the past six months.
President Duterte has earlier dismissed Gordon’s insinuations as mere just speculation.
A member of the Filipino family Gordon said even offered him P20 million in exchange for his non-appearance in the senate inquiry but he accordingly rejected the hefty offer.
The Senate blue ribbon committee, of which Gordon serves as chairman, opened last week an investigation of the suspicious dollar money flow of more than $633 million, or about P32 billion.
The said family who allegedly offered him P20 million, brought in $283 million.
For his part, President Duterte explained that “the money being brought into the country was being used by Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos) to pay their clients.”
“It was just the “speculation of senators” that the funds were being laundered in the country,” the President added as quoted from a report by Marlon Ramos of the Inquirer.
“I wish the President wouldn’t make remarks like that, especially since a coequal branch of government is investigating a very, very serious situation,” Gordon countered in an interview.
“Mr. President, I think you are being misled by your people. You better check. You’re a lawyer as well, most respectfully,” Gordon said.
“I am not trying to pick a fight with anybody. All I am saying is, I am sworn here as a senator and … that is why I am doing this. If we do not move, our country will be hurt by this,” he said.
Gordon also said a “common friend” had informed him that the family of dollar couriers wanted to donate P5 million to the Philippine Red Cross, which he chairs, in addition to the P20 million they offered to him.
“I told [my friend] that I don’t [accept bribes],” he said.
It may be recalled that President Duterte said on Monday that the country needed earnings from Pogos, which were bringing funds into the country for their operations.
P17-B income in 3 years
“But the speculation of senators [is] that these are used for laundering, well, we have a listing of the deposits,” President Duterte said in a press briefing at Malacañang. “There is a report of money laundering. But there is none from the banks themselves.”
“Someone wins, someone loses” in online gaming, President Duterte said.
“So they (Pogos) need money to pay. And that’s it. If they want the payment to emanate from the Philippines, there’s nothing that we can do,” Duterte said.
The President also said his primary concern if about losing the earnings from Pogos.
Presidential spokesperson, Salvador Panelo, said last week PH’s income from Pogos over the past three years had amounted to P17 billion.
“It would be too bad [if we lose it]. It could help the country,” the President said.
Duterte also assured reporters “there was no corruption in games supervised by Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), the state gambling regulator.”
“I assure you that every centavo to be earned from gaming supervised by [the Pagcor] are accounted for. There is no corruption there. I will not allow it,” he said. (IAmigo/sovereignph.com)