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Palace: Duterte's 'lobby money' claim is not necessarily about money

President Rodrigo Duterte clarified during the recent Cabinet on Monday that his comment "lobby money talks," after the Commission on Appointments rejected Environment Secretary-designate Gina Lopez, does not necessarily mean that money was involved, Malacañang said on Tuesday.

"We need to correct that. You know, the President did say last night that when he said 'lobby' it's not necessarily money," presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella told reporters in a press briefing.

"He corrected himself. I mean he clarified himself. When he said lobby, people automatically assume that there was an exchange of money. But he said, 'Basically, lobby is a legal thing that you can actually exercise in order to persuade once particular position'," the Palace official noted.

Duterte last week said "lobby money" played a role in the decision of the bicameral Commission on Appointments to give the appointment of Lopez the thumbs down.

"Sayang si Gina. I really like her passion. But you know how it is. This is democracy. And lobby money talks," he said in a speech in Davao City.

"May mga gusto akong tao, pero hindi ko kontrolado ang lahat. Pero I share powers. That is the process of checks and balances," he added.

The President clarified his own statement, saying that it was not a "not a pejorative accusation," Abella said.

"So it was not a pejorative. He was clarifying last night that it's not a pejorative accusation that money was transferred or that money was exchanged," he said.

"He's not backpedalling, he's simply adding to the explanation," Abella replied after he was asked whether Duterte back-tracked from his earlier statement.

Even though the President clarified his own statement, it does not mean certain lawmakers should stop seeking an investigation into the supposed influence of "business interests" in the CA, Abella said.

Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano intends to file a House resolution seeking to investigate what the President was talking about regarding members of the bicameral body.

Occidental Mindoro Rep. Josephine Ramirez-Sato, a member of the CA, and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon are also calling for Senate President Aquilino   Pimentel III, the body's chairman, to start an investigation into what happened. — VDS, GMA News