Senator Manny Pacquiao on Saturday claimed that there was corruption in the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Health, and the Department of Energy.
In a delayed virtual press conference Saturday afternoon, Pacquiao placed several stacks of documents on his desk which he said contained evidence that backed his claim on the alleged corruption in government departments.
Among the senator's allegations was his claim that P10.4 billion worth of Social Amelioration Program funding, commonly known as “ayuda,” was not distributed to beneficiaries.
Pacquiao said the government provided P207.6 billion for the second round of the SAP. Of this amount, Pacquiao said the DSWD routed more or less P50 billion to an e-wallet service called “Starpay.”
This e-wallet service, which he said was not popular in the market, had P62,000 in start-up capital.
“Batay sa ating imbestigasyon, Mr. President, lumalabas na sa initial disbursement mula Starpay account para sa 1.8 million beneficiaries nakatumbas ay P14 billion… Ito ang problema, Mr. President sa 1.8 million na binigyan ng SAP, 500,000 lamang na katao ang nag-download nito. Sa mga hindi nakakaalam hindi pa pwede mag-receive or withdraw ng anumang halaga kung wala kang Starpay app,” Pacquiao claimed.
(Based on our investigation, it appears that the initial disbursement of P14 billion for 1.8 million beneficiaries was sent through Starpay. This is the problem - of the 1.8 beneficiaries only 500,000 downloaded the e-wallet app. For those who don't know, you cannot receive or withdraw the cash aid without a Starpay app.)
“Ang tanong ko po, ano ang nangyari sa 1.3 million na katao na hindi nakadownload ng Starpay app ngunit sa record po nakatanggap na sila ng ayuda,” he added.
(This is my question, what happened to the 1.3 million beneficiaries who did not download the Starpay app, but based on records, received their cash aid.)
According to Pacquiao, the supposed anomaly in the SAP distribution was just one of his allegations that would back his claim that corruption was rampant in the government.
“Pangatlong araw pa lang po nung in-accept ko po ‘yung challenge niyo na patunayan [ang korapsyo]. Wala po kayong ikakagalit sa akin kasi gusto ko po tumulong sa inyo,” he reiterated.
Pacquiao said the documents that are currently in his possession will be forwarded to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee for a formal investigation.
In response to the senator’s accusations, DSWD spokesperson Irene Dumlao said the Social Welfare Department was “willing to face any investigating body and present the necessary evidence/documents to clarify those raised by the good Senator.”
“In fact, the agency has attended several Congressional hearings relative to the SAP implementation,” Dumlao pointed out.
Health, Energy Departments
Meanwhile, Pacquiao said the DOH was buying medicines that were nearing their expiration dates.
Pacquiao said he was preparing more documents that would prove corruption in the DOH. He said he would disclose the details at the right time.
Apart from that, he claimed that the DOE had given a private company—Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines— the power to become an independent electricity stock market operator.
“Alam niyo po ba na sa DOE per kilowatt hour na binabayaran ng Pilipino e may halos kalahating sentimo na napupunta sa isang pribadong company na tinayo sa pamamagitan na P7,000 na paid-up capital?” he asked
“Bilyon-bilyon ang halaga sa kamay ng kompanyang Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines na binigyan ng kapangyarihan ng DOE bilang independent electricity stock market operator,” he added.
Pacquiao claimed that the contract awarded to IEMOP did not go through a bidding process.
“Mula sa P7,000 paid-up capital ay naging instant billion company ang IEMOP sa loob lamang po ng isang taon,” he said.
He went on to say that his staff was still compiling evidence on reports of corruption in other government agencies.
For its part, the DOH said it would await the official documents from Pacquiao to appropriately and adequately answer his queries.
The DOH had earlier submitted budget utilization reports to the lawmaker.
Earlier this week, Duterte, in his weekly public address, lashed out at Pacquiao for supposedly criticizing him over alleged corruption in the Duterte administration.
"Si Pacquiao salita nang salita na three times daw tayong mas corrupt so I am challenging him, ituro mo ang opisina na corrupt at ako na ang bahala within one week may gawin ako," Duterte said.
(Pacquiao said we're three times more corrupt so I am challenging him to identify the corrupt offices and I would handle the situation within a week.)
Pacquiao accepted Duterte’s challenge and cited the alleged overpricing of COVID-19-related equipment procured by the DOH.
In ending his speech, Pacquiao told Duterte not to lose heart in the fight against corruption, which he said, was almost unsolvable.
"Totoong malala na talaga ang problema ng coruption sa ating bansa. Nakakapanghina ng loob talga ang lawak at lalim ng katiwalian sa ating bansa na tila napakahirap na itong labanan ngunit 'wag po kayong mawalan ng pag-asa. 'Wag po kayong panghinaan, Mr. Presdient, kasama niyo po ako na labanan ang salot na ito," he said.
"Mr. President, kayo ang pinili at nilagay ng panginoon d'yan. Suportado ko ang mga magandang programa lahat ng programa mo para sa kabutihan ng ating bansa at naniniwala ako na hindi lamang nanunuod ang sambayanang Pilipno. Naniniwala ako na sa krusada na ito nasa likuran ko po at kasama ko ang taong bayan." — Ted Cordero/DVM, GMA News