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'I am not a liar': Pacquiao accepts Duterte challenge to name corrupt officials, agencies

Bella Perez-Rubio - Philstar.com
'I am not a liar': Pacquiao accepts Duterte challenge to name corrupt officials, agencies
File photo shows Sen. Manny Pacquiao and President Rodrigo Duterte.
The STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — After President Rodrigo Duterte's tirade against him for calling out corruption in government, Sen. Manny Pacquiao on Tuesday recalled that it was the chief executive who first said that corrupt officials continue to plague the country. 

In continuation of the public squabble among the ruling PDP-Laban's leadership, party chairman Duterte during a televised address dared Pacquiao, the party's acting president, to name corrupt officials and agencies so that he could address the issue within a week.

"If you fail to do that, I will campaign against you because you are not doing your duty," Duterte said, addressing Pacquiao. 

"I accept the challenge of President Rodrigo Duterte. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to help you and provide you with information for the anti-corruption campaign," Pacquiao replied in a statement written in Filipino. 

"The President himself mentioned in his statement on October 27, 2020 that government corruption is on the rise," Pacquiao said, referencing a pre-recorded public address of Duterte's. "In his own words he said that 'I will concentrate the last remaining years of my term fighting corruption because until now it has not weakened and is getting stronger.'"

"Alam mo this country continues to be plagued with corruption. (You know, this country continues to be plagued with corruption)," Duterte also said then. 

The president at the time ordered the Department of Justice to probe the entire government for corruption, further directing it to give special attention to the Department of Public Works and Highways. 

"I have made mistakes in my life that I have straightened out and corrected but there are two things that I hold onto: I am not corrupt and I am not a liar," Pacquiao said. 

He went on to allege corruption at the Department of Health, citing in specific its procurement of supplies needed to combat the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

"Let's look at and review all purchases from rapid test kits, [personal protective equipment], masks and more," he said, renewing concerns aired by several members of the Senate since last year. 

"Are you ready Sec. Francisco Duque to show the total of your spending? Where did the money we borrowed for the pandemic go?" He further challenged the health secretary whose resignation due to his handling of the COVID-19 crisis has been sought by lawmakers on several occasions. 

"Nakakalungkot na sa isyu ng korapsyon kami magtatalo, dahil ang kailangan ng bansa ay mga lider na magtutulungan laban dito," Pacquiao ended. 

(It is unfortunate that it is on the issue of corruption we will argue, because what the country needs are leaders who will work together against it.) 

It is unclear where Pacquiao made the comments that drew Duterte's ire, but he is quoted making general statements about corruption in a December 2020 podcast interview on Nas Daily. 

"I am not saying that all of them (are corrupt). If they are affected by my words, I think they're guilty of corruption," Pacquiao, who has been a vocal supporter of the Duterte administration, said then.

Members of his party have urged Duterte to seek the vice presidency in 2022 and choose his own running mate.

Last night, the chief executive said he cannot work with someone who opposes him, adding that Pacquiao should have come to him directly to raise his concerns over corruption in government.

Despite this, the Palace maintained that Duterte may still back Pacquiao who is expected to seek the presidency in 2022. 

Speaking at a forum earlier this month, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that Duterte is also considering supporting his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, former Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. or Manila Mayor Isko Moreno for president.

READ: Duterte-Duterte tandem a 'final stop' in decades-long rise of dynasties — analysts

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