By Deighton Acuin

PHOTO: Manila Bulletin

"Sa akin po, absent po siguro si Senator Pacquiao nung nagprisinta yung mga Cabinet secretaries, or kung hindi siya absent he may have been preoccupied with something else.”

This was what Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque had to say as he questioned the timing of the corruption allegations posed by Senator Manny Pacquiao against the Department of Health (DOH) even if the agency itself reported during a Senate committee hearing.

"Nandun nga po siya nung naghi-hearing ang Senado at kung meron siyang mga tanong na ibinato kay [Health] Secretary [Francisco] Duque nung mga pagkakataon na 'yun," Roque said during a briefing over state media PTV-4.

Pacquiao’s allegations against the DOH came after President Rodrigo Duterte challenged him on Monday night to name government agencies and officials involved in corruption activities.

Duterte added if Pacquiao fails to do so, he will campaign against the senator in the 2022 national elections.

Moreover, Roque said the apparent rift between the chief executive and the senator are all connected to politics.

"Pulitika po talaga. Pulitika po ang katapusan nito. Tingin ko maghuhusga ang taumbayan kung sino talaga mamumuno sa 2022,” the Palace official said.

Duque, meanwhile, said he was “disheartened” over the accusations saying the agency has "always been transparent and cooperative to auditing efforts within the government."

In a statement on Tuesday, the health chief said: “While we are disheartened by these baseless accusations from our government officials, we submit ourselves to inquiries from legislators as this is a part of the checks and balances in our government.”

Meanwhile, Senator Koko Pimentel said it is “pointless and endless” to debate whether or not the current administration is more corrupt than the preceding governments.

“Even the President has said that there is corruption in government. ‘Wag na lang  mag-waste ng time in debating whether this is times 2 or times 3 of a certain level of corruption because that would be a pointless and endless debate,” Pimentel said.

Report source: GMA News