Lack of evidence kept Duterte from naming and shaming ‘corrupt’ lawmakers — Palace
MANILA, Philippines — The lack of sufficient evidence is what kept President Rodrigo Duterte from publicly naming lawmakers who allegedly make money by picking their favored contractors for infrastructure projects in their respective districts, Malacañang said Tuesday.
In his recent public speeches, Duterte had no problems naming dismissed immigration and customs personnel. But on Monday night, Duterte refused to read a list from the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) of members of the House of Representatives who might have been getting kickbacks from contractors of government projects, saying that he has “no authority” to investigate them.
Duterte’s spokesman Harry Roque said the President refused to name the lawmakers because he doesn’t have enough evidence of the “series” of the alleged corrupt activities.
“Ang problema po sa ebidensya dito sa mga Congressmen, merong di umanong proyekto na niluto ang bidding, ibinigay sa contractor na favored na nagbibigay ng porsyento sa kanila. So ang dami pong ebidensyang kinakailangan na hindi naman ho hawak ng presidente ng personal,” Roque said in a televised Palace briefing.
He added that Duterte was just respecting the separation of powers of government branches when he transmitted the PACC list to the Office of the Ombudsman, an independent body mandated to probe graft and corruption complaints.
“I can only surmise na it is evidentiary and number two, he stands by what he said na it entails separation of powers, mas mabuti na Ombudsman ang mag-imbestiga,” Roque said.
In the past, Duterte had not felt any such compunction in publicly accusing opposition Senator Leila De Lima of accepting money from the illegal drug trade in the national penitentiary when the lawmaker was still Justice Secretary. De Lima has been detained since 2017 for drug-related charges but the court has not yet ruled on her case
But the Palace official further said that De Lima’s case was “one of a kind,” as he pointed to the supposed “strong” evidence against the fierce Duterte critic.
“Kasi kay Leila De Lima, napakalakas ng ebidensya na talagang involved siya sa kalakalan ng pinagbabawal na droga. Eleven witnesses testified against her, between that and iyong allegations na namili ng favored contractor, humingi ng porsyento mahirap pong pruwebahan iyan so binigay na po niya yan sa Ombudsman,” Roque said.
He likewise explained Duterte’s penchant for public naming government personnel accused of involvement in illicit activities.
“Ang pinapangalanan ni Presidente ay iyong mga nasa ehekutibo. Kung mapapansin niyo, ang parusa ay suspension, binabago ni Presidente right there and there dismissal,” Roque said.
“Iyan po kasi nasa jurisdiction ng ehekutibo, samantalang pagdating po sa legislatura hindi niya masusupend ang mga legislators. Walang power to suspend ang Presidente sa mga Senador at Congressmen because only the chamber itself can suspend them. Pagdating naman po sa criminal liability, iyan ay specialization ng Ombudsman,” he added.
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