By Genalyn Kabiling
The Office of the Ombudsman can launch an investigation into the corruption allegations hurled against former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) general manager Alexander Balutan, according to a Palace official.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo has bared plans to recommend to President Duterte an independent probe on the case of Balutan and to let the Ombudsman take the lead.
“Definitely, we’re interested kung merong corruption sa parte ng PCSO. Kahit sino sa kanila [Definitely we’re interested to know if there is corruption on the part of the PCSO, anyone of them],” he said during a Palace press briefing.
Panelo said he would write a memo to the President to relay Balutan’s request for an impartial probe on his case.
Asked which government agency would conduct the probe on Balutan, Panelo said: Depende kay Presidente. Pwede kasing Ombudsman eh. Pero siguro ako, ang rekomendasyon ko ay ibigay na lang sa Ombudsman para independent [It depends on the President. It can be the Ombudsman but my recommendation is for the Ombudsman to investigate it so it will be independent].”
Balutan recently tendered his irrevocable resignation out of delicadeza amid allegations of corruption hurled against him. The Palace initially announced he was fired by the President but later recanted its statement.
Panelo said Balutan has denied the corruption allegations against him during their meeting last Monday. He said Balutan also sought a fair and impartial probe to bring out the truth on the matter.
Among the allegations against Balutan included the renewal of small town lottery permits despite failure to reach revenue targets as well as bribe money delivered to the PCSO office, Panelo said.
On the flip-flopping of the Palace about the fate of Balutan, Panelo admitted that his statement about the termination of his services did not directly come from the President. He said it came from someone in the Office of the President whom he refused to name.
He also explained that Balutan actually wanted to resign Friday but only tendered his formal resignation letter the next day. He said such resignation letter came a day after the Palace statement about his dismissal.
“On his side, he wants to have an investigation on that and he would not want to be viewed as clinging to a position when there are serious allegations of corruption to him,” Panelo said.
“Si Presidente naman, ayaw niya ng a whiff of corruption, at since marami nang nagrereklamo, ang dami na pati sa House, eh minabuti niyang—eh ang problema nga nauna iyong—nahuli iyong kanyang resignation [The President does not like any whiff of corruption and since many have complained, including from the House, he decided to resign. The problem is the resignation came in late],” he said.