Lacson to 'test' Duterte's crackdown on corruption

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson said on Thursday, August 1, that official action on his exposés on alleged corruption in government will test President Rodrigo Duterte's resolve to fight corruption.

Lacson made the statement at the weekly Senate media forum, where he said he took Duterte's renewed call to fight corruption in government as "encouragement" to expose more irregularities committed by public officials. The President made the call in his 4th State of the Nation Address. 

"All the more I was encouraged at sa akin parang challenge 'yan na, O sige, mag-expose kayo, tulungan ninyo ako.... But at the back of my mind, iniisip ko test din 'yan. Sige sinabi mo ganito, ite-test ko rin kung anong gagawin mo," Lacson said.

(All the more I was encouraged and for me, that's a challenge like, Okay you expose [corruption] and help me.... But at the back of my mind, I think that it's also test. You said this, so I will also test what you would do about it.)

"At least I can make my own judgment if it's lip service or a serious call to arms to the members of the Congress to do something, to expose, investigate, and help the President weed out corruption in government," the senator added.

Lacson is known to expose graft and corruption in his privilege speeches. On Monday, July 29, he delivered a privilege speech on the alleged business dealings of the family of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III with his own department, as well as reported irregularities at the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation.

Lacson said on Thursday that so far, no one from Malacañang had reached out to him regarding the documents he presented against Duque during his privilege speech.

"Kung nanghihingi na sila sa akin ng dokumento, willingly I'll provide them the documents. 'Yan ang hinihintay ko, 'Baka puwedeng mag-request naman kami ng dokumentong inilabas niyo, Senador.' Matulin pa sa alas-kwatro papadala ko roon," Lacson said.

(If they ask for the documents, I will willingly provide them the documents. That's what I'm waiting for. 'Can we request for the documents that you showed, Senator?' I will send them right away.)

Duterte has repeatedly said that even "one whiff of corruption" would be enough for him to fire or sanction an official, but he has also been known to reappoint or even promote officials alleged to be corrupt.

Lacson himself had pointed this out in his privilege speech in May, when he said that Customs remained "one hell of a mess" because of corruption. In that speech, he lamented that Duterte even promoted sacked ManiIa International Container Port district collector Vener Baquiran as Customs deputy commissioner.

Baquiran was among the officials in a list of alleged corrupt Customs officials that Lacson bared in a privilege speech in 2017.  (READ: FULL TEXT: 'Kita kita sa Customs')

Anothe "recycled" official in Lacson's list is former Customs chief Nicanor Faeldon who was moved to the Bureau of Corrections in October 2018. (LIST: No to corruption? Duterte's controversial reappointees– Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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