Pacquiao adds DSWD, DOE, DENR to his list of ‘corrupt’ agencies
MANILA, Philippines — Hours before he flew to the United States to train for his next ring appearance, world boxing champion-turned politician Sen. Manny Pacquiao responded to President Rodrigo Duterte’s challenge to identify corruption-hit government agencies by naming three more.
Without directly accusing specific officials of committing graft, Pacquiao said he informed about alleged irregularities in the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
He said he was informed that up to P10.4 billion in aid to the poor during the pandemic had gone missing from the DSWD and that the Department of Health (DOH), which he first identified, was adding to the losses from state coffers through irregular purchases.
At an online press briefing where he was shown sitting at his desk behind stacks of documents, Pacquiao said the DSWD had entered into a questionable deal with a poorly capitalized company to handle the payout for 1.8 million beneficiaries of the second tranche of the government’s social amelioration program (SAP).
He said only 500,000 had downloaded the application created by the company to use in collecting their cash aid, although the DSWD reported that the SAP money had been totally disbursed to all the 1.8 million beneficiaries.
“It’s really problematic because it’s owned by a company that has a P62,000 paid-up capital, and yet, P16 billion had been downloaded to it,” the senator said.
“So, my question is, what happened to the funds for the 1.3 million if they have not downloaded the application, but on record, received the cash aid?” he said.
The Inquirer was unable to reach the company and DSWD officials for comment.
Pacquiao, however, cleared the President of involvement in any irregularity. “I believe he does not know anything about these, or he is misinformed. This is why I am surprised why he is getting mad at me,” he said.
Pacquiao dismissed insinuations that his exposés were connected to his political plans in 2022. The boxing champion is rumored to be preparing to run for president next year.
He said that it may have just been “coincidence” that his informants had relayed these alleged irregularities to him close to the election season.
“This issue of corruption has become really rampant…and they are saying they are coming out now because they could no longer stomach the extent of these anomalies,” he said.
Pacquiao said he also had documents showing that the DOH also was losing money in purchasing medicines that are nearing their expiry dates.
He did not say how much money was being lost and who may be involved.
“I will make full disclosure of all the details at the right time. I am doing this because I do not want to be embarrassed after I accepted the President’s challenge,” he said.
The DOH last October said that P2.2 billion worth of nearly expired and overstocked medicines, as well as medical and dental kits, procured by the government were already being distributed.
Aside from the DSWD and the DOH, Pacquiao said he had also received documents of alleged corruption in other agencies, including the DENR and the DOE, which is headed by Secretary Alfonso Cusi, with whom he has had political differences within the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).
He gave no details of alleged corruption at the DENR.
As in the DSWD, the DOE also awarded billions of pesos in contracts to a startup company with a P20,000 paid-up capital allegedly without going through a bidding, Pacquiao said.
“My staff is now busy trying to verify the veracity of all these documents before we turn them over to the (Senate blue ribbon committee). So, you watch out for that,” he told reporters.
He said he will submit a resolution on the alleged irregularities to the blue ribbon committee on Monday, by which time he would have already started his training for the fight against welterweight champion Errol Spence in August in Las Vegas.
The senator clarified that he was not starting a quarrel with the President or harboring any ill feelings toward the chair of PDP-Laban.
Cusi and his allies in the party are pushing the President to run for Vice President next year. Pacquiao said the meeting where this was announced by Cusi was not authorized by the party of which he is the acting president.
Pacquiao said he has been trying to to set up a meeting with Duterte for the past four to five months.
“I still maintain that high level of respect for our President, and I believe that either he does not fully understand [my intentions], or he has been fed with wrong information,” he said.
Smarting from Pacquiao’s remarks that corruption had worsened in recent years, the President said the senator should pay attention to Senate hearings and “do your job.”
On Thursday, he told the senator, “Do not go anywhere, finish and find out the corruption that you are talking about.”
“If you report [in the Senate] once or twice a month, then I would say that you are a shit. A shit is a shit,” Mr. Duterte said.
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