Malacañang on Tuesday said there was no plunder of public funds as the government continues to grapple with the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
This, after Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao, during the continuation of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the government’s spending of the Covid-19 funds, came across a new word, “plundemic,” or plunder in the time of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque reiterated that the Commission on Audit (COA) had already issued a clarification that the observed deficiencies in the Department of Health’s (DOH) management of pandemic funds is not conclusive of corruption.
“COA already made a clarification. In its report, it said it never said the DOH made irregularities. So, there is no ‘plundemic’,” Roque said in Filipino in an online press briefing.
Roque added that COA’s 2020 audit report on DOH has merely stressed the agency’s failure to handle the P67.32 billion in Covid-19 response funds.
“COA merely wanted explanation as to why DOH failed to spend the money,” he said in Filipino.
On Monday, Pacquiao also claimed that the government’s Covid-19 response efforts have been “mismanaged,” citing the continuing spike in coronavirus cases.
Pacquiao, in an interview with TeleRadyo, said he believes the Covid-19 pandemic has not been “resolved” given the allegedly “worsening” situation in the country.
Roque said Pacquiao’s statement no longer came as a surprise since the election season has already started.
“His remark is already expected, because it’s already election season,” he said in Filipino.
Pacquiao, whose relationship with President Rodrigo Duterte has become strained following his corruption allegations against some government officials, has expressed his intent to run for president next year.
Roque schooled Pacquiao, telling him that the presence of the more transmissible Delta coronavirus variant has prompted the rise in Covid-19 infections.“The truth is Delta variant is the problem because it is] five to eight times more infectious,” he said in Filipino. “So, the cases will really increase.”