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MANILA – Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo on Wednesday slammed critics for questioning President Rodrigo Duterte’s refusal to name lawmakers who allegedly received kickbacks from project contractors.

In his commentary show “Counterpoint”, Panelo said detractors did nothing but condemn the President’s actions.

“Ito namang mga kritiko, ‘O bakit hindi mo nginangalangan itong mga kongresista?’ Alam po ninyo, ang mga kritiko talaga. Natatandaan ninyo nginangalan ni Presidente yung mga involved sa drugs noon? O di ba ang mga kritiko ‘Bakit mo nginangalanan e wala ka pa ngang demanda (These critics ask ‘Why didn’t you name the congressmen? You know, critics. Remember when the President named those involved in illegal drugs before? Critics would ask, ‘Why did you name them, you haven’t filed charges yet)?” Panelo said

He expressed contempt for Duterte’s critics, saying there seemed to be no way to please them.

“Binanatan ‘yun dahil nginalangan. Ngayon namang ayaw niya ngalanan, nagagalit din kayo. Ayan yung problema e…Gawin ni Presidente ito, ayaw niyo. Ayaw niya gawin, ayaw niyo rin (He was criticized for naming them. Now that he doesn’t want to name them you’re still mad. That’s the problem, when the President does something, you don’t like it. When he doesn’t do it, you don’t like it either). He’s damned if he does and he’s damned if he doesn’t,” he added.

In a taped public address aired Monday night, Duterte bared that he was given a list of government officials and lawmakers said to be involved in corruption, but he stopped short from naming them.

Duterte said he would refer the list to the Office of the Ombudsman, saying he has no jurisdiction over members of a co-equal branch of government.

The list was given to him by Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) Commissioner Greco Belgica.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said Duterte refused to name the lawmakers because he did not have enough evidence to prove their involvement in anomalies.

Meanwhile, Panelo defended Duterte’s move to publicly accuse Senator Leila de Lima of accepting money from the illegal drug trade, saying they were based on criminal offenses she committed,

“Senadora, kaya ka nakakulong, unang-una may demanda ka, may probable cause, may warrant of arrest (Senator, you’re in jail because someone filed a case against you, there’s probable cause, there’s a warrant of arrest),” he said.

Panelo said de Lima should have been able to file motions for bail if she could prove her innocence.

De Lima, one of Duterte’s staunchest critics, has been in detention since February 2017 for her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade. She has denied the charges and has filed two distinct motions for bail. (PNA)

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