Duterte-Pacquiao rift worsens

President Rodrigo Duterte and Senator Manny Pacquiao | Philstar.com file photos

THE relationship between Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Senator Manny Pacquiao has reportedly become strained following the senator’s supposed corruption remarks against the current administration.

Pacquiao on Wednesday, June 30, accepted the chief executive’s challenge to name corrupt government agencies to prove the senator’s claim that corruption is getting worse in the country.

“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 (I accept President Rodrigo Duterte’s challenge. Thank you for allowing us to help you and provide you with information for the anti-corruption campaign),” the boxer turned senator said in a statement.

“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 (With all due respect dear president, 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),” he added.

Pacquiao pointed out that Duterte himself acknowledged the country’s problem with corruption back in October last year.

“In his own words, sinabi niya na (he said), ‘I will concentrate the last remaining years of my term fighting corruption kasi hanggang ngayon hindi humihina, lumalakas pa lalo (because it’s becoming more serious),’” he said.

The senator went on to name the country’s Department of Health (DOH) as a corrupt agency, citing its procurement of supplies in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

“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 (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),” said Pacquiao.

“Handa ka ba Sec. Francisco Duque na ipakita ang kabuuan ng iyong ginagastos? Saan napunta ang pera na inutang natin para sa pandemya (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)?” he added.

Pacquiao also expressed sadness over the widening rift between him and Duterte.

“Nakakalungkot na sa isyu ng korapsyon kami magtatalo, dahil ang kailangan ng bansa ay mga lider na magtutulungan laban dito (It is unfortunate that the issue of corruption will cause us to fight, when the country needs leaders who will work together against it),” he noted.

The challenge

In his weekly public address aired Monday, June 28, Duterte went on a tirade against Pacquiao, challenging him to name corrupt government agencies under his administration.

“[Si] Pacquiao, salita ng salita na three times daw tayo mas corrupt (Pacquiao has been saying that we are three times more corrupt),” he said.

“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 (Point those offices that are corrupt and let me take care of it. Within one week, I will do something. 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),” the president added.

Duterte threatened the senator to campaign against him if he fails to expose the corrupt agencies.

“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,” he said.

The chief executive also pointed out that every administration would always have its share of corruption issues.

“Do not ever think that if you will win as president, corruption will disappear here in the Pilipinas (Philippines),” said Duterte.

Earlier, Pacquiao said he will declare war against corruption if he runs for president.

“Ang daming kawatan diyan sa gobyerno (There are so many thieves in the government),” he said in a past interview.

‘Not as cordial’

According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Duterte’s relationship with Pacquiao has now turned sour.

“It’s rather obvious that the relationship between the President and Senator Pacquaio is not as cordial as it was,” he said in a Palace briefing on Tuesday, June 29.

“Natapon na po ang sabaw (The soup has spilled),” he added.

Currently, Pacquiao is the president of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), the ruling party Duterte chairs.

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