After initially refusing to name lawmakers who allegedly demanded kickbacks from project contractors, President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Monday night finally bared their names.
Duterte said he decided to disclose their names after agreeing with Anakalusugan Party-list Rep. Mike Defensor that it was important to name them so as not to tarnish the image of the entire chamber.
“Kailangan ko sabihin sa mga tao (I need to announce this to the people) or else I’d look stupid. Tama ‘yung sinabi ni I think it was Mike Defensor. E bakit pinag-submit niya tapos ayaw niya basahin ngayon? (What Mike Defensor said is right. ‘Why would he submit it to the Ombudsman and refuse to disclose their names?’) So which is also correct,” he said in a taped speech.
Duterte said access to information applies to all government agencies, adding that it was his “sworn duty” to bare the names of dishonest politicians.
“Whether ako ang magbasa o hindi, lalabas talaga ‘to (Whether I read it out loud or not, it will still come out) because they have right to have access to information, miski sinong tao (anyone),” he said.
Not gospel truth
Duterte explained to the public that reading out their names is “not a condemnation nor indictment” that they are guilty of something.
He said they are still entitled to the presumption of innocence.
“Do not take it as a gospel truth na totoo talaga ‘to. Lumabas lang ito sa investigation ng [Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission] (that it is real. This just came out in the investigation of the PACC),” he said.
According to the President, he did not want to have bad blood with any lawmaker whose name he would read out.
He said he was only being obedient to the “call of the people” who have reported such corrupt dealings.
“I do not want a quarrel with you. We are independent from each other. This is not really my work. This is the work of people who may be obeyed my guarantee that they will be protected,” he said.
Duterte earlier offered a cash prize worth PHP50,000 to PHP100,000 to anyone who could report dishonest government officials and their corruption activities.
He also pointed out that he has been naming officials and workers linked to corrupt activities in previous speeches.
Since the start of his term in 2016, Duterte has been releasing a so-called “narco-list” containing the names of incumbent and former officials, lawmakers, judges, and uniformed personnel suspected of being involved in the illegal drug trade.
He said if anyone could prove that he accepted even one peso as a bribe, he was willing to step down from his post.
If his eldest son Davao City 1st District Rep. Paolo Duterte is also on the list, he said he would also not hesitate to read his name out loud and resign.
“Pag nandiyan ‘yung pangalan niya (If his name is on the list), I will read it,” he said. “No sacred cows.”
Reading from the PACC list, Duterte named at least nine lawmakers who received kickbacks from project contractors: Occidental Mindoro Rep. Josephine Ramirez-Sato; former Ifugao Rep. Teodoro “Teddy” Baguilat; Quezon City 5th District Rep. Alfred Vargas; Misamis Occidental Rep. Henry Oaminal; Isabela Rep. Alyssa Sheena Tan; Northern Samar 1st District Rep. Paul Daza; 4th District of Quezon Rep. Angelina “Helen” Tan; ACT-CIS Party-list Rep. Eric Go Yap; and Bataan 1st District Rep. Geraldine Roman.
Meanwhile, Duterte also asked Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar to provide him with a list of district engineers, noting that he wanted to reorganize their assignments.
“I would like to ask Secretary Villar to give me a list of district engineers and the districts they are assigned all over the country. I will reorganize their assignments,” he said.
Last November, Duterte bared that he received a list of lawmakers allegedly involved in corruption in projects in the DPWH.
He said the list was given to him by PACC Commissioner Greco Belgica.
He, however, declined to name them, saying he had no jurisdiction over members of a co-equal branch of government.
Instead of naming them, he said he would refer to the Office of the Ombudsman information on the alleged corrupt lawmakers. (PNA)