Senator Manny Pacquiao accepted President Rodrigo Duterte’s challenge, declaring in a statement that he would name corrupt government agencies in the current administration.
“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.
(Translation: I accept President Duterte’s challenge. Thank you for allowing us to help you in the fight against corruption.)
The senator then proceeded to say that he was not 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.”
(Translation: With all due respect, I’m not a liar. I have made many mistakes in my life that I have corrected, but there are two things that I am certain of. I’m not corrupt and I’m not a liar.)
Duterte had apparently taken offense when Pacquiao made comments about corruption under his presidency, with the latter claiming that the current administration was more corrupt than its predecessor in a recent interview with Radyo 5 on June 22.
A week later on Monday (June 28), Duterte clapped back, challenging Pacquiao to expose government offices and officials allegedly involved in corruption.
"I'm challenging him. Ituro mo ang opisina na corrupt at ako na ang bahala. Within one week may gawin ako. Maglista ka, Pacquiao, na sinasabi mong two times kaming corrupt. Ilista mo ‘yung mga tao at opisina at dapat nilista mo na noon at ibigay mo sa akin," Duterte said during his regular Monday briefing.
(Translation: I'm challenging him. Point to the corrupt offices and I will take charge. I'll do something within a week... Make a list, Pacquiao, because you're saying we're twice as corrupt. List the individuals and the office. You should have made a list before and given it to me.)
“If you fail to do that, I will campaign against you because you are not doing your duty. Do it because, if not, I will just tell the people: Do not vote for Pacquiao because he is a liar,” Duterte added.
“But if you can’t do that, I will be after you every day. I will expose you as a liar,” the president went on, raising the stakes.
In response, Pacquiao recalled Duterte’s own claim that corruption in the government “growing stronger.”
“In his own words sinabi niya na ‘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,” the senator said.
Pacquiao specifically named the Department of Health (DOH), urging investigators to begin inspecting items purchased by the department.
“Magsimula tayo sa DOH. Silipin at busisiin natin lahat ng mga binili mula sa rapid test kits, PPE (personal protective equipment), 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?” he added.
(Translation: Let’s start with the DOH. Let’s take a look and scrutinize all the rapid test kits, the PPE sets, masks and other items it procured. Are you ready, Sec. Francisco Duque, to show everything that the DOH has spent? Where did all of the money we borrow for the pandemic response go?)
The senator went on to say that he was disappointed that the issue has caused a spat between him and the President.
“Nakakalungkot na sa isyu ng korapsyon kami magtatalo, dahil ang kailangan ng bansa ay mga lider na magtutulungan laban dito,” he said.
(Translation: Sadly, this corruption issue will cause us to fight, for the country’s leaders need to fight together against corruption.)
Both politicians are stalwarts in the ruling PDP-Laban party, with Duterte as party chairman and Pacquiao as president.
Pacquiao has been named as a potential presidential candidate in the 2020 polls. At least two of his Senate colleagues claimed he has shown interest in running for president. But the senator himself has yet to announce his plans for the upcoming elections.
Ana Catalina Paje is a development journalist passionate about grassroots communication geared towards genuine social change. She also writes about showbiz, lifestyle, and all things Pinoy pride. The views expressed are her own.
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