Pacquiao urges probe into pandemic funds of DOH


SENATOR Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao on Tuesday, June 29, 2021, accepted the challenge issued by President Rodrigo Duterte and suggested that authorities look into how the Department of Health (DOH) spent the funds allotted for pandemic response.

“Magsimula tayo sa DOH. Silipin at busisiin natin lahat ng mga binili mula sa rapid test kits, PPE, masks at iba pa. Handa ka ba Sec. Francisco Duque na ipakita ang kabuuan ng iyong ginagastos? Saan napunta ang pera na inutang natin para sa pandemya?

(Let’s start with DOH. Let’s scrutinize its procurement of rapid test kits, PPE, masks and others. Are you ready to show the breakdown, Secretary Francisco Duque? Where did the funds that we borrowed for pandemic response go?)

DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III, in a statement Tuesday evening, said it has always been transparent and cooperative to auditing efforts within the government.

Duque described Pacquiao’s accusations as baseless and said the DOH is ready to show where the loans for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines went.

“While we are disheartened by these baseless accusations from our government officials, we submit ourselves to inquiries from legislators as this is a part of the checks and balances in our government. I have always been a champion of good governance and the DOH has always been transparent with regard to our fund utilization,” Duque said.

The DOH said it has to rationally use its funds to continuously implement the Universal Health Care Law and ensure unhampered delivery of health services while responding to the pandemic.

“Kung ang tanong ay kung handa kaming ipakita kung saan napunta ang pondo, handang-handa po kami. We submit reports to concerned government agencies and even the Senate. Ang utang po natin para sa bakuna ay naipaliwanag na noon ng Department of Finance sa Senate committee of the whole hearing - ang inutang na pondo ay diretsong napupunta sa vaccine manufacturer mula sa funding agency. Hindi po dumadaan sa DOH o maski na sa gobyerno ang pera mula sa mga funding agencies,” Duque said.

(If the question is whether we are ready to show where the funds went, we are ready. We submit reports to concerned government agencies and even the Senate. As explained by the Department of Finance during the Senate committee of the whole hearing, the loan proceeds go directly to the vaccine manufacturer from the funding agency. No amount is coursed through DOH or any government agency.)

Pacquiao, a boxing champion who has been elected as senator, named the DOH in response to Duterte’s challenge for him to identify officials and agencies involved in corruption.

Duterte threatened to campaign against Pacquiao after the senator said that corruption in the current administration is two to three times worse than in the past administration.

Read: Duterte threatens to campaign against Pacquiao

Pacquiao, who had been supportive of Duterte, is known to be eyeing the presidency in the 2022 elections. He serves as president of the ruling PDP-Laban, which Duterte heads as chairman.

“Tinatanggap ko ang hamon ng Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte. Salamat po at binigyan nyo kami ng pagkakataon na tumulong sa inyo at bigyan kayo ng mga impormasyon para kampanya kontra korapsyon,” Pacquiao said.

(I accept the challenge of President Rodrigo Duterte. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to help you and provide information for the campaign against corruption.)

Pacquiao said it was Duterte himself who said on October 27, 2020 that corruption has worsened.

“In his own words, sinabi niya na (he said that), ‘I will concentrate the last remaining years of my term fighting corruption kasi hanggang ngayon hindi humihina, lumalakas pa lalo.’ Mr. President I feel the same way,” Pacquiao said.

He denied that he is a liar.

“Mawalang galang po mahal na Pangulo, nguni’t hindi ako sinungaling. May mga naging pagkakamali ako sa buhay na aking itinuwid at itinama nguni’t dalawang bagay ang kaya kong panghawakan. Hindi ako tiwali at hindi ako sinungaling,” he said.

(With all due respect, Mr. President, I am not a liar. I have made mistakes, but I have corrected these. There are two things that I am sure of: I am not corrupt and I am not a liar.)

“Nakakalungkot na sa isyu ng korapsyon kami magtatalo, dahil ang kailangan ng bansa ay mga lider na magtutulungan laban dito,” he added.

(I am saddened that we disagree on the issue of corruption because what the country needs are leaders who will work together in addressing this.)

Meanwhile, the DOH said it signed on April 30 a manifesto of pledge of cooperation and oath of honesty for Project Kasangga with the Presidential Anti-Corruption Council (PACC).

Under Project Kasangga, government agencies commit to reduce corruption incidents through swift detection, prosecution, and resolution of graft and corruption cases within their department.

“Hindi pa tapos ang pandemya. Bilang bansa, isa lang dapat ang ating mithiin - at iyan ang i-knock out ang Covid-19,” Duque said.

(The pandemic is not over yet. As a nation, we should have only one objective - and that is to knock out Covid-19). (Marites Villamor-Ilano / SunStar Philippines)


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