Lacson to Duterte: Instead of resigning, apply corruption laws to both friends and foes
This composite photo shows Sen. Panfilo Lacson and President Rodrigo Duterte.
Senate PRIB/Joseph Vidal | Presidential Photo/King Rodriguez
Lacson to Duterte: Instead of resigning, apply corruption laws to both friends and foes
Bella Perez-Rubio ( - September 29, 2020 - 12:02pm

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Ping Lacson on Tuesday renewed his call on the President Rodrigo Duterte to exercise "strong political will" in the effort to weed out corruption from the government. 

This comes after Duterte in a televised address Monday night revealed that he offered to resign over corruption allegations surrounding top government officials. 

"Instead of resigning, the president only needs to be consistent in applying the anti-graft and corruption laws to both friends and foes," Lacson said in response on Tuesday. 

"Strong words and warnings may work, but only when backed by political will and followed by concrete actions. There is no better way," he added. 

Lacson offered the same response earlier this month when a proposal to give Duterte emergency powers to clean up the embattled Philippine Health Insurance Corp. was floated at the House of Representatives. 

"Ewan ko kung sabihin ko ito sa inyo. I offered to resign as president. Pinatawag ko ‘yung lahat ng… Sabi ko na I have — kasi nagsasawa na ako," Duterte said last night. 

Referring to corrupt officials, he added: "You better come up with an explanation that is really good to hear because kung mawalaan ako ng pasensya, bastusin talaga kita (if i lose patience I will really disrespect you)." 

"Or Congress can call me and we will discuss...I do not have any qualms about you setting up oversight committees. That is good. More people watching the people’s money, the better," he added. 

Not 'a whiff' of corruption? 

Despite this, inaction on corruption is not a new allegation lobbied at Duterte. In fact, he has often been accused of overlooking corruption on behalf of his friends and appointees. 

As early as August, Lacson had already said he was dismayed by Duterte's failure to uphold his promise that he would not tolerate even "a whiff of corruption." 

"He previously said 'just a whiff of corruption,' just a faint smell, you're fired. This is not just a whiff of corruption. It's very disappointing..." Lacson said in a mix of English and Filipino during an interview with ANC, referring to the unfurling allegations of fraud and mismanagement against top officials at PhilHealth. 

With the state-run insurer having been the subject of three separate investigations, its Chairman of the Board and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has been the subject of much criticism. Over half the Senate called for his resignation over the country's initial response to the pandemic and these calls were renewed as the upper chamber investigated the agency. 

The Senate Committee of the Whole report recommended that charges of malversation, illegal use of public funds, graft, and violation of the Internal Revenue Code be filed against Duque. The same report also recommended that Duque be replaced. Despite this, Malacañang has repeatedly said that the health secretary continues to enjoy the president's trust. 

In May 2018, Duterte defended and refused to fire Solicitor General Jose Calida even after senators called for his replacement over the more than P150 million in government contracts his family's security agency bagged since becoming the government's top lawyer.

In October 2018, he also defended former Bureau of Customs commissioners Isidro Lapeña and Nicanor Faeldon, saying they were not corrupt even after they were accused of involvement in illegal drug shipments worth billions of pesos. Duterte said they were not involved and were instead "eaten up by the system."

Last year, as the P55 million SEA Games Cauldron became the center of controversy, Duterte warded off corruption claims, saying there was "no extravagance" in its price. The president's close ally House Speaker Alan Cayetano (Taguig) chaired the Philippine Southeast Asia Games Organizing Committee. 

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