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Roxas Asks Duterte To Stop Dragging His Name Through The Mud

Roxas Asks Duterte To Stop Dragging His Name Through The Mud
Former interior secretary Manuel ‘Mar’ Roxas II

Former interior secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II on Thursday, Aug. 26, called on President Duterte to stop dragging his name through the mud following the Chief Executive’s allegations that money was stolen during his stint in the department.

Roxas, who lost to Duterte in the 2016 presidential elections, had been a subject of the President’s tirades in the past, questioning in particular what the former secretary had done to solve the country’s drug woes when he was at the helm of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

On Thursday, Aug. 26, Roxas brushed off Duterte’s claims of corruption during his stint as DILG chief, saying it was only a “diversion.”

During Duterte’s pre-taped address on Tuesday, Aug. 24, he dug up previous reports of the Commission on Audit (COA), where it flagged the DILG for over P7 billion worth of unliquidated fund transfers to various projects back in 2014.

While Duterte refused to acknowledge COA reports released recently as they were unfavorable to the administration, he used past findings of state auditors to besmirch Roxas and former justice secretary  and detained Sen. Leila de Lima anew.

Duterte earlier ordered government agencies to ignore COA reports and asked state auditors to stop publishing initial findings, saying these only condemns agencies or the people it is flagging.

The President said no one has been jailed because of the findings of COA.

Roxas served as DILG secretary from 2010 to 2015. He was also a congressman, senator, and secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry and the then Department of Transportation and Communications.

Duterte made his newest accusations against Roxas as he defended Health Secretary Francisco Duque III from corruption allegations as state auditors found deficiencies in the Department of Heath’s use of over P67 billion allocated for COVID-19 response.

Read more: COA Flags Inefficient DOH Use Of P67-Billion COVID Funds

The Commission on Audit (COA) said the agency’s deficiencies in the utilization of COVID-19 funds resulted in “challenges” and “missed opportunities” in efforts to combat the “unprecedented scale” of the pandemic.

Kung may nakita pala siyang masama doon, eh ba’t wala akong kaso? Bakit di niya ako kinasuhan? (If he saw something wrong with it, why didn’t he sue me?),” Roxas said in an interview with “Sa Totoo Lang” on One PH.

Sino ba namang naghahanap ng sakit ng ulo sa buhay? Pero alam ko naman na malinis ang panunungkulan ko at wala akong kaso (Who is looking for trouble in life? But I know that I served well and I don’t have any case),” he stressed.

Roxas later explained that it was “normal” for the COA to release such reports as it is part of its mandate under the Constitution.

Ang importante ay ano nangyari? Ano’ng ginawa? Paano sinagot? Paano inaksyunan itong mga puna ng COA (What’s important here is what happened? What was done? What action was taken to address the COA findings),” Roxas said.

Roxas pointed out there’s already a “pattern” of looking for scapegoats whenever the Duterte administration could not answer the allegations against it.

Ang problema, nakita na natin ‘yung pattern at ‘yan naman ay patutsada at saka diversion lamang. At imbes na sagutin kung ano ‘yung tinatanong sa Senado ay naghahanap pa sila ng dibersyon (The problem here is that we’ve already seen this pattern, and that is only an accusation and a diversion. And instead of answering the questions by the Senate, they look for a diversion,” Roxas said.

To prove his clean record, Roxas said that he had been cleared from any questions related to his dealings as head of agencies that he previously served. “Bago makapag-retiro, bago makakuha ng retirement ay kailangang ma-clear nung ahensya ng pinagsilbihan niya,” he said. “Tayo po ay may clearance. Na-clear po tayo sa DTI, sa Senado, at bago pa ‘yung DTI, sa Kongreso (Before I retired, I had to get clearance from the agencies I served. I had clearance from the DTI, from the Senate…and from Congress.)

Roxas said he should not be made a scapegoat since he has long retired from politics and had been leading a quiet life. He stressed Duque should just answer the claims being thrown at him.

Nananahimik na nga tayo rito eh so ‘yun lang. Palagay ko, ‘yang mga patutsada, mga drama na ‘yan, pang-diversion lang ‘yan kasi walang masagot (I’ve been quiet here. For me, the accusations, dramas are only a diversion since they can’t answer),” Roxas said.

Roxas said finger-pointing would not be of help given the gravity of the challenges that the country has to face.

Roxas also disclosed he had not been participating in pre-election activities and even if he is part of the opposition, particularly the Liberal Party, the political coalition 1Sambayan had not reached out to him to run in the 2022 polls.

Hindi po ako bahagi niyan at wala po kaming komunikasyon. Retirado na tayo,” he said. “Sa totoo lang, maraming salamat sa imbitasyon. Dahil nga kinaladkad na naman ang pangalan ko. Otherwise, wala akong kainteres-interes na magpa-interview o sumabak ulit sa pulitika (I am not a part of that, and I am not in communication with them. I am now retired. To be honest, thank you for the invitation because my name is being dragged again. Otherwise, I don’t have any interest to do an interview or join politics again),” Roxas said.

Aside from Roxas, Duterte also accused former justice secretary and detained Sen. Leila de Lima of stealing money from government coffers.

Duterte said the Department of Justice (DOJ) under De Lima made an unliquidated cash advance of P617.44 million in 2013.

He added the funds of the Department of Health being questioned were used by Duque for purchases related to COVID-19 response. “The stupid was jailed and yet she didn’t account for this. Then their press release said this was liquidated already,” the President said in his weekly public address.

De Lima is one of the staunch critics of Duterte. She believes she is being politically persecuted as she she was detained on what she claimed by trumped-up illegal drug charges and other cases.

“These are unliquidated cash advances. This is really stolen money. Duque made cash advances for purchases,” he said. “It’s good for the Filipinos to know who the thief is…I feel sorry for the Filipinos, they are really battered,” Duterte said.

Based on reports, however, the DOJ, in 2014, denied accumulating P617.44 million in unliquidated cash advances and that the was only P890,000.

Meanwhile, COA in 2014 said as of Dec. 31 of the same year, the accumulated worth of unliquidated fund transfers of the DILG had already reached P7.040 billion.

In 2016, the Liberal Party explained that the liquidation of the amount cited in the COA report was the responsibility of concerned local government units and not the DILG.

“For someone who cannot even publicly disclose and release his own” statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs), De Lima posted on Twitter on Wednesday, Aug. 25, that Duterte's accusation against her and “regarding COA's past reports on our agencies is just plain rich in irony and hypocrisy.”

To disprove the corruption allegations, De Lima implied that people could check the SALNs they filed each year during the time of the late former president Benigno Aquino III.

Malinaw sa aming mga SALN na hindi namin pinagkakitaan ang gobyerno. Ikaw kailan mo ilalabas ang iyong SALN?” De Lima asked.