IN HIS bid to clear the Department of Health (DOH) and Secretary Francisco Duque III of corruption allegations, President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday evening, August 24, 2021, recalled the allegations against former interior secretary Manuel Roxas II and Senator Leila de Lima.

Duterte said the Commission on Audit (COA) audit report of 2013 stated that the Department of Justice, then led by De Lima, had unliquidated cash advances worth P617.44 million.

The DOJ said the unliquidated cash advances amounted only to P890,000.

In 2014, Duterte said the COA flagged over P7 billion unliquidated funds in the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), which was then headed by Roxas.

“Ito perang kinuha talaga. Eh itong kay Duque magbili eh. Ito nag-cash advance, nagbale,” he said.

“Itong kay De Lima ang pinakamaingay. Magturo ka ng magnanakaw…nakaturo sa iyo…Sige nga, mag-ingay ka nga ngayon… Mabuti na malaman ng Pilipino kung sino ang magnanakaw,” he added.

De Lima, who is detained over drug charges, said Duterte’s accusation “is just plain rich in irony and hypocrisy” as she noted that the President cannot even publicly disclose and release his own Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth.

“I challenge Duterte to file cases with the Ombudsman arising from those COA reports. He cannot, because those accounts have long been settled and closed,” she said in a statement.

“Hindi kami katulad ng mga ilang tao sa gobyerno ni Duterte na magngangangawngaw sa telebisyon, at lalong hindi katulad ni PNoy si Duterte na pagbabantaan ang COA dahil lamang ginawa nito ang trabaho nila… Neither I nor Sec. Mar Roxas threatened the COA after those reports were released. Walang nagsisigaw sa aming dalawa sa telebisyon na winarak kami ng COA,” she added.

Roxas has yet to issue a statement on the matter.

Duterte again slammed COA for “painting Duque black” after it flagged deficiencies in the use of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) response funds.

Duterte reiterated that he will not fire Duque, but will accept a voluntary resignation.

“Now ngayon, kung si Duque will offer to resign voluntarily, tatanggapin ko. Pero kung sabihin mo ako ang magsabi sa kanya ‘mag-resign ka,’ that will never happen,” he said.

“Pero ‘pag may nakita ako ng mali sa kanya, maski sampung libo lang (P10,000) o singko mil (P5,000), talagang sabi ko yayariin kita kasi ipahamak mo ako sa tao eh,” he added.

Calls for Duque’s resignation have been made since 2020 over his alleged inefficiency in responding to the pandemic, the missed vaccine procurement opportunities and the P15-billion corruption allegation in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation. (Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo / SunStar Philippines)