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Guevarra: Task Force vs Corruption may look into Pacquiao’s allegations

Guevarra: Task Force vs Corruption may look into Pacquiao's allegations

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Manny Pacquiao may refer his allegations against national government agencies to the Department of Justice-led Task Force against Corruption for investigation, Secretary Menardo Guevarra said.

In a message to reporters, the justice chief said that Pacquiao is aware that, with sufficient evidence at hand, the senator can file graft complaints against erring officials before the Office of the Ombudsman or the DOJ.

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If further investigation may be needed, he can approach the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission for those appointed by the chief executive, or if the allegations involved other officials, Pacquiao may refer them to the TFAC. 

“To the extent possible, the TFAC disregards the possible motives of complainants; we make a thorough evaluation, based on the allegations in the complaint, whether there is enough factual basis to proceed further, or require the complainant to provide more information on which to build a case,” Guevarra told reporters. 

Duterte ordered the creation of the TFAC in October 2020. The task force is tasked to investigate the entire government of corruption. 

President Rodrigo Duterte and Pacquiao had been exchanging tirades after the latter called out corruption in the government. 

In an apparent continuing squabble among the PDP-Laban’s leadership, party chairman Duterte dared Pacquiao, acting president, to name corrupt officials and agencies so issues may be addressed. 

Taking up Duterte’s challenge, Pacquiao first named the Department of Health. The senator followed it up with another press conference on Saturday where he claimed he was in possession of documents baring billions lost due to corruption across government agencies and said he would refer them all to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee. 

In his latest statement, Pacquiao accused the Department of Social Welfare Department specifically of failing to distribute P10.4 billion in pandemic aid. 

“This is the problem, Mr. President, why of the 1.8 million [people] given SAP through Starpay, only 500,000 people have downloaded the app?” Pacquiao said in a presentation delivered in Filipino.

Starpay: Funds already liquidated

Electronic money issuer Starpay in a separate statement on Monday also clarified details in Pacquiao’s claims and asserted that funds were already liquidated.

The company said Pacquiao was incorrect in claiming that their current capitalizaption is P62,000, when the required capitalization to apply for an electronic money issuer license is P100 million.

“Furthermore, we have already liquidated the funds given to us and have refunded the amount for the unserved beneficiaries through several checks that were issued to the [DSWD] Land Bank account totaling to P8.239 billion, as also mentioned by the DSWD in their 4th of July release,” it added.

Starpay said since their engagement with the DSWD in June 2020 for distribution of SAP, they were able to cover more than five million beneficiaries.

“On the supposed large number of complaints, we have on record a total of 1,615 complaints which were resolved and would only constitute 0.03% of the total served number of beneficiaries,” it added. — Kristine Joy Patag with reports from Bella Perez-Rubio

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