MALACANANG on Tuesday said President Rodrigo Duterte refused to name congressmen who allegedly received kickbacks from project contractors due to “lack of sufficient evidence.”
Critics questioned why Duterte decided not to disclose the names of legislators when he had no problem doing so with personnel from the Customs, Immigration, and Internal Revenue bureaus.
Duterte also previously bared a “narco-list” of incumbent and former officials, lawmakers, judges, and uniformed personnel suspected to be involved in the illegal drug trade.
Instead of naming the lawmakers, Duterte said he will refer the list to the Office of the Ombudsman, saying he has no jurisdiction over members of a co-equal branch of government.
“I think it’s evidentiary. Sinabi naman po iyan ni Presidente na because this is an issue of evidence, mas mabuting mag-imbestiga ay ang Ombudsman dahil ang hurisdiksiyon ng Ombudsman ay lahat ng tao ng gobyerno, hindi lang po ang Ehekutibo or Legislative or Judicial ‘no,” he said in a Palace press briefing.
Roque said Duterte could publicly disclose names of personnel in the executive department involved in anomalies because it is within his jurisdiction.
“Kung mapapansin ninyo, minsan ang parusa ay suspension, binabago right there and then ni Presidente, dismissal. So iyan po kasi ay nasa hurisdiksiyon ng ehekutibo,” he said.
He said Duterte also had no problems reading out names on the narco-list because it was easier to prove that an official was bribed.
“Siguro po dahil nakita ni Presidente mismo bilang dating piskal ang ebidensiya laban doon sa mga huwes na iyon. Napakadali po kasi niyan eh, unang-una, kung ang allegation ay tumanggap ang isang huwes para ma-acquit ang isang drug lord at mayroon pong ebidensiya na ipinakita, well sa tingin po ng Presidente tatayo iyong ebidensiyang iyon ‘no at madali tumayo,” he said.
However, he said the case is different for lawmakers because he does not have enough evidence to prove that they favored contractors.
“Ang problema po dito sa mga ebidensiya sa congressmen, ‘di umano mayroong mga proyekto na linuto ang bidding at ibinigay sa contractor na favored na nagbibigay ng porsiyento sa kaniya. So parang ang dami pong mga ebidensiyang kinakailangan na hindi naman po hawak ng Presidente nang personal ‘no. Unlike iyong mga ebidensiya na tumanggap ng suhol ang isang huwes ‘no na talagang madali naman pong ma-establish iyan by evidence,” he added.
Roque pointed out that Duterte was also respecting the separate powers of government branches when he referred to the Ombudsman the list of congressmen given to him by the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission.
“He stands by what he said that this entails separation of powers. Mas mabuti na Ombudsman ang mag-imbestiga,” he said.
While Duterte did not hesitate to publicly accuse opposition Senator Leila de Lima of accepting from the illegal drug trade when she was still Justice Secretary, Roque insisted that there was “strong” evidence against her.
“Kasi kay Leila de Lima, napakalakas ng ebidensiya na talagang involved siya doon sa kalakalan ng ipinagbabawal na droga. So 11 witnesses testified against her,” he said.
He said Duterte, a former prosecutor, could easily determine that de Lima was guilty of illegal drug trafficking.
“Pagdating sa mga kongresista na nakiki-collude daw sa mga contractors, mas competent po talagang mag-evaluate niyan ang Ombudsman because iyon nga po ang dahilan kung bakit nag-establish tayo ngOmbudsman; samantalang ang drug trafficking naman po ay, that’s really a jurisdiction of the public prosecutors and not the specialized prosecutors under the Office of the Ombudsman,” he said.
De Lima has been in detention since February 2017 due to drug-related charges. She has so far filed two distinct motions for bail, claiming her innocence. Philippine News Agency