President Rodrigo Duterte lashed out at two senators investigating supposed deficiencies in the government’s Covid-19 pandemic spending, stressing that he would not be elected as the country’s president if he was corrupt like them.
In his prerecorded public address aired Wednesday morning, Duterte told Senator Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, and Senator Frank Drilon that they would not be able to find any “loopholes” in the government’s procurement of medical supplies.
“You know, Gordon and Drilon, I will not reach the presidency from being a mayor if I am corrupt like you, if I am accepting campaign funds from erring individuals including members of the Congress,” he said in Filipino.
Duterte admitted that his administration was far from perfect but corruption was not in his system.
“You have a loophole. You will not get anything from us. It’s not in my system about corruption and money. Perhaps you can say something about me on other matters, but not when it comes to money,” he added partly in Filipino.
As a public official, Duterte said he had to accept criticisms.
He reiterated that he does not care about what could happen to controversial firm Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp., noting that senators could conduct as many hearings as they want.
“I don’t care about Pharmally. They can extend hearings to as long as a year, just don’t involve employees of the executive department, like Cabinet members you summon to sit down but do not get to speak and were just embarrassed,” he said in Filipino.
Last month, Duterte issued a memo formally barring officials and employees of the executive branch from attending Senate Blue Ribbon probes into the government’s handling of Covid-19 response funds, noting that it was derailing government from focusing their time and efforts to address the prevailing health crisis.
Duterte also pointed out that the executive department merely fulfilled its mandate in purchasing the needed medical supplies in a way that was approved by Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (Bayanihan 1).
He said the Commission on Audit also clarified that it did not find corruption in the procurement process for the medical supplies.