President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said Sen. Manny Pacquiao was "punch-drunk" to claim that there were over P10 billion missing pandemic funds, ratcheting up their word war ahead of the 2022 elections.
Duterte urged the public not to believe Pacquiao, who earlier claimed that there was P10.4 billion missing in funds allocated for the government's COVID-19 cash aid program for the poor.
“Huwag kayo maniwala diyan, P10 billion mawala? That is a work of a...I have a term for that, it is not mine, I just borrowed it, but I think Pacquiao is punch-drunk,” Duterte said of the fighting senator as he described the lawmaker as someone who has suffered repeated blows to the head to make such claims.
Pacquiao had revealed the missing funds after he accepted Duterte's challenge to expose corruption in the government.
The fighting senator also alleged that the Department of Social Welfare and Development failed to fully distribute cash aid, particularly to recipients via mobile wallet Starpay. The DSWD denied Pacquiao's claims and expressed willingness to cooperate in an investigation.
"Papayag ba naman ang COA (Commission on Audit) niyan? At hindi lang ‘yan, papayag ba kami? Papayag ba ang mga secretary ng mga departamento na may mawala na P10 billion?” Duterte said.
“That is a statement coming from a guy who is punch-drunk. Lasing," he added.
Pacquiao is currently training in the U.S. for his match with Errol Spence in August.