MANILA – Malacañang on Tuesday said there was no plunder of public funds as the government continues to grapple with the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
This, after Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao, during the continuation of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the government’s spending of the Covid-19 funds, came across a new word, “plundemic,” or plunder in the time of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque reiterated that the Commission on Audit (COA) had already issued a clarification that the observed deficiencies in the Department of Health’s (DOH) management of pandemic funds is not conclusive of corruption.
“Well, nagkaroon na po ng paglilinaw dito ang COA. Sa kaniyang report po sa DOH, hindi po niya ever sinabi na ever nagkaroon ng pandarambong. So, wala pong ‘plundemic’ na sinasabi (COA already made a clarification. In its report, it said it never said the DOH made irregularities. So, there is no ‘plundemic’),” Roque said in an online press briefing.
Roque added that COA’s 2020 audit report on DOH has merely stressed the agency’s failure to handle the PHP67.32 billion in Covid-19 response funds.
“Ang sinasabi nga po ng COA, nais nilang magkaroon ng linaw kung bakit ‘yung ilang mahahalaga pong salapi na ibinigay sa DOH ay hindi nga po ginastos (COA merely wanted explanation as to why DOH failed to spend the money),” he said.
On Monday, Pacquiao also claimed that the government’s Covid-19 response efforts have been “mismanaged,” citing the continuing spike in coronavirus cases.
Pacquiao, in an interview with TeleRadyo, said he believes the Covid-19 pandemic has not been “resolved” given the allegedly “worsening” situation in the country.
Roque said Pacquiao’s statement no longer came as a surprise since the election season has already started.
“Hindi po ako nagtataka na iyan ang kaniyang pakiramdam dahil panahon na po ng politika (His remark is already expected, because it’s already election season),” he said.
Pacquiao, whose relationship with President Rodrigo Duterte has become strained following his corruption allegations against some government officials, has expressed his intent to run for president next year.
Roque schooled Pacquiao, telling him that the presence of the more transmissible Delta coronavirus variant has prompted the rise in Covid-19 infections.
“Ang totoo po niyan, ang problema, si Delta variant (The truth is Delta variant is the problem) because it is] five to eight times more infectious,” he said. “So talagang dadami po ang mga kaso natin (So, the cases will really increase).” (PNA)