ILOILO CITY – In response to President Duterte, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said: “Mr. President, ask the people of Iloilo.”
This was the statement released by Drilon, who hails from Iloilo, after President Duterte’s taped briefing was aired early morning of Saturday, September 11.
For many Ilonggos, Drilon is regarded as an instrumental figure in bringing in multi-billion government infrastructure projects that propelled the growth and development of both the city and province of Iloilo.
President Duterte challenged Drilon—one of the members of the Senate’s blue ribbon committee currently investigating alleged overpriced procurements of COVID-19 related items including face masks and PPEs—to explain alleged corruption for projects in Iloilo.
“Since you have proclaimed yourself and your friends there in the Senate as anti-corruption czar, please enlighten me,” said President Duterte in the taped briefing.
Duterte asked who “brokered” the sale of the old airport site in Iloilo City to property developer Megaworld Corp.
“It was sold through a public bidding at P1.2 billion set by the Privatization Council then headed by the late Justice Sec. Raul Gonzales in 2007. The government’s Privatization Council at that time can very well explain this to the President,” said Drilon in a statement.
Similar to Drilon, the late secretary of justice was also from Iloilo City.
Drilon also pointed out that the old airport site is where the Iloilo Convention Center was built.
“In case the President mentions it (the Iloilo Convention Center) in the future, the Ombudsman had investigated it and found no corruption,” added Drilon.
President Duterte also wanted Drilon to explain his linkage to convicted businesswoman Janet Napoles-Lim and former Iloilo City mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, whom Duterte has constantly linked to illegal drug trade.
“Former Mayor Jed Mabilog is a distant relative—being a second cousin. I cannot comprehend why the President wanted me to explain my connection with the former mayor,” Drilon said.
“There is not an iota of evidence that will link my name to illegal drugs,” Drilon added.
Mabilog is currently in Canada, where he sought asylum after being constantly threatened by Duterte that he will be killed if he comes back to the country.