Lawmakers seek probe of Pacquiao allegations
MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers in both houses of Congress supported the call of Sen. Manny Pacquiao to investigate corruption in the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and three other government agencies.
Aside from the DSWD, Pacquiao also tagged the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Energy (DOE), and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as among the graft-ridden agencies in the Duterte administration.
The champion boxer-turned-lawmaker claimed there was P10.4 billion in pandemic aid missing from the DSWD and that the DOH had been buying nearly expired medicines.
Pacquiao said he had documents baring corruption and other irregularities in the four agencies and would make “full disclosure of all the details at the right time.”
The DSWD denied Pacquiao’s claims and said on Sunday that there were “no missing funds” in the agency.
Questionable DSWD deal
In a statement, Irene Dumlao, spokesperson for the DSWD, said the agency was willing to present the necessary evidence and documents before any investigating body to clarify the matters raised by Pacquiao.
Specifically, Pacquiao alleged that the DSWD entered into a questionable deal with a financial services provider (FSP), called Starpay — which he claimed only had a starting capital of P60,000—to handle the payout of the social amelioration program for 1.8 million Filipinos.
P7K company now billionaire
Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas on Sunday also called for an investigation of Pacquiao’s revelations and demanded the DSWD to make public the government’s memorandum of agreement with Starpay and the other financial service providers.
“The MOA between DSWD and fintech firms must be publicized not just because of alleged missing funds, but because of the charging of transaction fees for each ‘ayuda’ beneficiary, which was eventually reimbursed by the DSWD,” she said.
Similarly, Pacquiao claimed that the DOE granted a private company — the Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines (IEMOP)—the privilege to become an electricity spot market operator without public bidding.
The senator claimed that IEMOP gets almost half of what Filipino consumers pay for every kilowatt-hour of electricity, allowing it to become a billion-peso company within one year from a paid-up capital of only P7,000.
Rep. Ferdinand Gaite also backed Pacquiao’s call for a probe and dared President Rodrigo Duterte to investigate his allies who might be involved in corruption.
“Hopefully Sen. Manny can deliver the knockout punch against these corrupt agencies,” Gaite said in a statement.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson urged Pacquiao to submit to Senate President Vicente Sotto III or the Senate blue ribbon committee the documents he has to support his corruption claims.
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