MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has slammed anew the alleged “politicking” of members of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee ahead of the 2022 national elections by nitpicking about his administration’s coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic response efforts.
Duterte said the committee is conducting a series of hearings on the purchase of Covid-19 emergency supplies not to search for truth but to find fault with him and his administration.
“Now, itong sa Blue Ribbon Committee, sa totoo lang, ang ginagawa niyo sa administration (honestly, what the Blue Ribbon Committee is doing to my administration), it’s really politicking,” he said in a taped Talk to the People delivered Tuesday night but aired Wednesday morning.
Duterte expressed dismay that some senators are exhausting all efforts to sow public hatred against him.
“Ewan ko ba, baka wala na silang ma-display na magawa nila kaya naghanap na lang ikagagalit ng tao sa akin (I don’t know, perhaps, they have no achievements to show off, that’s why they want people to get mad at me),” he said. “I will not be there for the longest time pero sabihin ko sa inyo, ‘yung oath of office ko, talagang tinupad ko (but I’m telling you, I adhered to my oath of office).”
Duterte issued the statement amid the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee’s probe into the government’s procurement of allegedly overpriced personal protective equipment (PPE) at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.
‘In aid of election’
Duterte alluded that the Senate hearing was conducted “in aid of election.”
“Now that the elections are coming near, nagging questions and accusations, nandiyan na lahat (they are all there),” he said. “So what is this? In aid of election or legislation?”
Duterte also reiterated that some senators were not allowing their resource persons to give their full explanation.
“You cannot tell the truth in the Senate. You know why? Because they would not allow you to complete your answer. ‘Yung kalahati lang, sabak agad ito. Maputol ka na (After you give your explanation, they would interrupt you),” he said.
Duterte maintained that there are no irregularities in the purchase of Covid-19 medical supplies.
“Hindi niyo ako maintindihan. Wala pang corruption. Ako mismo ang nagsasabi. Walang corruption (You don’t understand me. There is no corruption. I am telling you that there is no corruption),” he said.
Duterte added that the lawmakers can also ask the Commission on Audit (COA) to prove that there is nothing wrong with the procurement of emergency supplies amid the prevailing pandemic.
“Ako, mismo, again, I would like to disabuse the minds of all the detractors of government, walang nangyaring korapsyon sa mga procurement ng gobyerno. Matanong man ninyo ngayon sa COA ‘yung procurement at this early (There is no corruption in the government’s procurement. You can ask COA at this early),” he said.
On Tuesday, COA chief Michael Aguinaldo told the senators that the Office of the President adhered to the procurement rules when it entered into contracts for the purchase of Covid-19 medical supplies and ensured accountability.
‘Let him complete his work’
Duterte also reiterated his call on the senators to stop dictating his administration, especially the Department of Health (DOH) led by Secretary Francisco Duque III.
He told the Senate not to dictate Duque who is tasked to lead the Covid-19 pandemic response efforts.
“You know, when you give funds to a department, it is programmed by the department. Do not run the department as if it is parang opisina lang ng Senado (as if it is also an office of the Senate). Do not dictate. Si Duque ‘yung nagpapatakbo diyan. Hayaan mo siya (Let Duque run that. Let him be) Let him make the program and spend the money,” he said.
Duterte likewise said it is inappropriate to criticize Duque amid the pandemic, especially since the health chief is doing his best to fight Covid-19.
“Let him complete his work. At the end of the day, kung palpak ang trabaho niya (if he fails to do his job), then that is the time for reckoning, but not before completing the programs of his department in pursuant to his work as secretary,” he said. (PNA)