MANILA – Chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo on Wednesday denied that there was a bribery attempt on President Rodrigo Duterte.
Panelo yesterday said the owner of cigarette maker Mighty Corp. sent a gift to Duterte which turned to be a box of cash.
He stressed, the sending of the “gift” was not bribery.
“May I correct you people. I never said there was a bribery try. In fact, my statement was I don’t know anything about that. Ask [Presidential Spokesperson] Undersecretary Ernesto Abella. Nagkalituhan yata sa text,” Panelo told reporters.
“The president himself related a story that it happened when he was vice mayor or mayor, and it was not bribery attempt but it was a gift which he returned.”
During a regular press briefing on Tuesday, Abella revealed a failed attempt to “influence” the President “financially.”
“He (Duterte) was simply saying that, in time past, there was an attempt to influence him financially,” Abella said, recalling a “Cabinet conversation.”
Abella refused to give additional details on the “Cabinet conversation,” telling reporters: “He (Duterte) has not commented on it publicly. If he feels that he should, he will.”
Duterte later confirmed Panelo’s story, but he said the incident happened when he was still Davao City mayor.
“And when I was Mayor, hindi naman, wala namang sinabi, basta iniwan lang. May hiningi pabor, sabi ko I am not into it. Pero pag-tindig niya may naiwan doon na parang…Hindi naman, wala naman bribery, kasi wala naman sinabi. Parang gratis. Pinahabol ko kay Bong,” Duterte said.
“Akala ko… kung bote, tatanggapin ko. Hindi naman ako umiinom eh, eh ‘di binibigay ko lang sa… Pero noong tiningnan ‘nong aide ko, pera. Sabi ko ihabol mo kung saan ‘yung g***** ‘yan. So nahabol niya sa eroplano mismo.”
Duterte also said that last Christmas, he received a gun as a gift. He ordered that this be returned.
Duterte earlier ordered the arrest of the “owner” of Mighty Corp., which supposedly stemmed from allegations the company faked tax stamps.
Mighty president Alexander Wong Chu King met with National Bureau of Investigation officials on Tuesday following an order from the Bureau of Internal Revenue “to seek him out,” said NBI spokesman Ferdinand Lavin.
While no charges have been filed, the businessman agreed to cooperate in any NBI investigation, Lavin said.