President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday denied allegations of corruption over his administration's use of COVID-19 pandemic funds, accusing lawmakers investigating the matter of politicking.
Emergency purchases made by the Duterte administration last year to respond to the pandemic are under scrutiny for allegedly being overpriced. Opposition lawmakers have also questioned the links of the chosen supplier to a former adviser of the President.
"Walang nangyaring corruption sa mga procurement ng gobyerno," Duterte said in his public address taped Tuesday but aired Wednesday. "Walang corruption, ako na mismo ang nagsasabi."
Duterte questioned the motives of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee for grilling health and budget officials over pandemic funds. He said the hearings were meant to provoke public uproar against his administration.
"What is this? In aid of legislation or in aid of election?" Duterte asked.
"Baka wala na sila ma-display na magawa nila kaya naghanap na lang ng ikagagalit ng tao sa akin," he said.
The Senate recently moved to arrest Duterte's former adviser Michael Yang for failure to attend the chamber's hearings on the use of government pandemic funds. Yang reportedly has links to Pharmally, the company chosen to supply medical gear to the government.
Earlier, the Commission on Audit also flagged the Department of Health's failure to comply with regulations in its spending of P67 billion in pandemic funds. The COA has clarified that its report did not allege corruption in the DOH.
The government is moving towards a new strategy to respond to the pandemic as COVID-19 infections continue to rise due to the hyper-contagious coronavirus Delta variant.