Palace: There was an attempt to bribe Duterte

7 March 2017:

Malacañang on Tuesday confirmed that there was an attempt to bribe President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Actually that’s really a matter of Cabinet conversation. However, since you have brought it out, he simply was saying… he was not berating Mindanao politicians. He was simply saying that in time past, there was a certain attempt to influence him financially,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a briefing.

“Of course, he did [reject it],” he added.

Abella declined to provide details or confirm queries from reporters during the briefing if tobacco company Mighty Corporation made the attempt to bribe Duterte.

“I don’t have any opinions regarding the matter,” he said.

Asked if Duterte directed his Cabinet to investigate on the matter, Abella said: “Let’s just say let’s watch DOJ [Department of Justice] go ahead.”

Panelo confirms bribe try

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, however, confirmed that it was Mighty Corporation that attempted to influence Duterte.

“During [the] Cabinet meeting last night, President Duterte said [the] owner of Mighty Cigarettes attempted to bribe him ‘with millions,'” he said.

Panelo also said that Duterte ordered the arrest of the owner of the cigarette company for economic sabotage.

“He ordered the arrest of the owner of the Mighty Corporation for economic sabotage… He instructed [Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II] to order the arrest,” Panelo told GMA News Online in a phone interview.  

Meanwhile, businessman Alexander Wong Chu King, owner of Mighty Corp., vowed to cooperate in any investigation on allegations that he committed economic sabotage.

NBI spokesperson Ferdinand Lavin said in a text message that King met with NBI Director Dante Gierran where the businessman expressed his willingness to cooperate in any investigation the agency may conduct.

Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Caesar Dulay had ordered an investigation against the tobacco company for allegedly using fake tax stamps.

Abella said that those who tried to influence the President should be scared.

“The President puts priority on anti-crime, anti-corruption, and anti-illegal drugs,” he said.

“They should be scared… because the law will come down full force upon them,” he added. —ALG/RSJ, GMA News