President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night said he would refer to the Office of the Ombudsman information he received about some members of the House of Representatives who allegedly received kickbacks from project contractors.
In a taped speech, Duterte bared that he received a list of lawmakers who were allegedly involved in corruption in projects in the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
He said the list was given to him by Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) Commissioner Greco Belgica.
However, he refused to investigate and name the said lawmakers saying he has no jurisdiction over members of a co-equal branch of government.
“Kung itapon mo sa akin (If you pass it to me), I have no other recourse, itapon ko rin ‘yan doon sa (I’ll pass it to the) Ombudsman because it is the only — it is the only investigating agency that has jurisdiction over congressmen, hindi ako (not me). I cannot investigate congressmen. That would be an encroachment of the power,” he said.
Duterte said he was not trying to “wash his hands” but insisted that he did not have the power to probe solons.
“I’m not trying to wash my hands — I am now dwelling on the law. If I cannot investigate the congressmen or itong mga kickback nila sa mga commission sa mga projects sa kanilang probinsiya na pinili nila ‘yung mga contractors (or their kickbacks from commissions in projects in their provinces),” he added.
According to Duterte, he decided not to publicly name the congressmen, not because he was afraid or covering up for them. He said he simply wanted to clarify the matter with the media.
“Hindi sabihin ako’y natatakot or may kino-cover-an ako na congressman, wala. Wala. Pagdating niyan sa listahan (I’m not scared or covering up for any congressman. Nothing. When it comes to the list), it will be given to me and me alone,” he said.
He said that even if he asked the Department of Justice to review the list of lawmakers, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra would also end up passing it on to the Ombudsman.
Last month, Belgica disclosed that some solons were under probe for allegedly conspiring with DPWH officials and contractors to commit graft.
He, however, said the PACC would not disclose to the public the lawmakers’ names being investigated.
Since the start of his term in 2016, Duterte has been releasing a so-called “narco-list” containing incumbent and former officials, lawmakers, judges, and uniformed personnel suspected to be involved in the illegal drug trade. PNA.GOV.PH