Still no resolution from Pacquiao calling for corruption probe  — Senate panel chair

Bella Perez-Rubio - Philstar.com
Still no resolution from Pacquiao calling for corruption probe  â Senate panel chair
File photo shows Sen. Richard Gordon who is chairman of the Blue Ribbon Committee.
The STAR / Geremy Pintolo, File

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Manny Pacquiao has yet to file a resolution urging the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to launch a probe into alleged corruption in government agencies, the panel's chairman Sen. Richard Gordon said Wednesday. 

Before departing for the US on Saturday for a boxing match, Pacquiao held a press briefing to accuse the Department of Social Welfare Department of failing to distribute P10.4 billion in pandemic aid. He also accused the Department of Health of intentionally purchasing medicine near their expiry dates.

Both agencies have since denied the senator's allegations. 

Pacquiao said he would file a resolution urging the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to investigate the allegations. He also said he would refer allthe documents in his possession to the panel.

He said the records would expose "corruption in every branch of our government." 

But Gordon said on his Twitter account that the committee has not received any such documents from Pacquiao. 

"Investigation of corruption cases must proceed but my committee cannot investigate based merely on newspaper accounts," Gordon said. "I have neither received any request nor has any Resolution been filed regarding Senator Manny Pacquiao’s allegations." 

"The current allegations hurled by Sen. Pacquiao against several executive departments, like any other allegation made by any other colleague, must be taken seriously," he added. "But before we can even think of proceeding, the Blue Ribbon must know what it will be specifically investigating." 

Under the Senate's rules on investigations, the Senate and its committees can initiate hearings on their own. Senators may also file resolutions calling for them.

Gordon: Oversight powers must not be abused 

Gordon further warned that the "tremendous powers of the Blue Ribbon Committee cannot be exercised in a cavalier fashion that could only lead to abuse."

"We are not in the business of chasing ghosts. We are in the business of doing what is right," he said. 

In the meantime, Gordon said his office and members of the committee staff have been instructed to reach out to officials to find out if there is evidence to back up Pacquiao's claims. 

"If there is basis, I will not hesitate to act and do what is right," he assured. 

Pacquiao bared the alleged corruption in response to President Rodrigo Duterte who earlier dared him to prove his claims.

He was also acting on advice from Sen. Panfilo Lacson and Senate President Vicente Sotto III, who urged him to present substantial evidence to back up his claims before departing for the US. 

Lacson and Sotto are considering a joint bid for the country's two highest posts in 2022. 

Gordon is also considering a bid for the presidency in 2022. 

PDP-Laban rift

While he insists that he is not trying to attack Duterte, who sits as chairman of the ruling PDP-Laban, Pacquiao, who is the party's president, has been locked in a public conflict with the chief executive for weeks.

Duterte last week claimed that the conflict with Pacquiao stemmed from the latter's frustration with not yet being named as the party's presidential bet for 2022. 

During a national assembly held May 31 against Pacquiao's wishes, the PDP-Laban passed a resolution urging Duterte to seek the vice presidency next year and to choose his own running mate. 

The president's daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, is not part of the PDP-Laban but some members of the party want her on their ticket nonetheless. 

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

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