President Duterte has refused to investigate and identify some congressmen allegedly getting kickbacks from project contractors, saying he has no jurisdiction over the members of a separate co-equal branch of government.
The President explained that he has “no recourse” but to pass the list of lawmakers to the Office of the Ombudsman to take appropriate action.
The list of lawmakers allegedly involved in corruption in public works projects in their districts was given to the President by the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC).
“I have no business investigating congressmen. They belong to a separate organ of government which is co-equal with the President pati ang (and the) Supreme Court,” Duterte said in his televised public address Monday night.
“Kung itapon mo sa akin (If you pass it to me), I have no other recourse, itapon ko rin yan doon sa (I will pass it to the) Ombudsman because it is the only investigating agency that has jurisdiction over congressmen. Hindi ako (Not me). I cannot investigate congressman, that would be an encroachment of the power of the separation,” he said.
Duterte is also reluctant to divulge the names of the congressmen during his public address aired on state television. The former Davao City mayor insisted that the lawmakers were not under his jurisdiction.
“I’m not trying to wash my hands. I am now dwelling on the law… If I cannot investigate the congressmen then I have no authority to be releasing their names that they are involved per investigation by the PACC,” he added.
Duterte said his decision not to publicly name the congressmen does not mean he was afraid or trying to cover up the activity of lawmakers. He said he wanted to clarify the matter since the media would supposedly try to find fault in his decision.
“Kung wala akong jurisdiction, wag mo akong tanungin dito kung sino ang involved diyan (If I don’t have jurisdiction, do not ask me who are involved here),” he said about the alleged corruption-tainted projects),” he said.
The President mentioned that PACC Commissioner Greco Belgica informed him about the list of congressmen “who are into the business of asking commissions from contractors.” “Now, how true ito, sabi ni Belgica sa PACC (Now, how true the report made by Belgica of PACC) is a matter of evidence,” he said.
Last month, Belgica divulged the alleged conspiracies linking some congressmen to anomalies in the implementation of infrastructure projects. He claimed that some lawmakers were supposedly in cahoots with contractors of public works projects to allegedly commit corruption.
Back in 2017, the President released the list of former and incumbent government officials allegedly linked to the illegal drug trade. The list included some congressmen, mayors and other public servants. Ahead of the 2019 elections, Duterte bared an updated list of narco-politicians, saying the release of the names was in line “public interest.”