On Wednesday, four senators confirmed reports of their linkage to Kenneth Dong, a Filipino-Chinese businessman and the middleman in the delivery of the 604-kilogram of illegal drugs from China into the country.
After the questioning conducted by the Senate blue Ribbon Committee regarding the illegal drug shipment that passed through the security system of the BOC (Bureau of Customs) last May. It was also Kenneth Dong’s first time to attend the hearing.
Dong was the suspected middleman who worked with dealer Mark Taguba in the shipment which came from China carrying illegal drugs (Shabu) which worth P6.4 billion.
As reports have stated, Senators Francis Pangilinan, Risa Hontiveros, Miguel Zubiri and President Pro-tempore Ralph Recto were some of the principal sponsors in the 2013 wedding of Dong. During the campaign of Senator Joel Villanueva for the senatorial elections last May, Dong was also reported as a contributor.
In different statements, Pangilinan, Hontiveros, Zubiri and Villanueva admitted that they had linkages with Kenneth Dong.
Zubiri confirmed that he was a principal sponsor during Dong’s wedding but he added that he has not seen Dong since last December. He considers Dong a friend, Zubiri said.
“I got to know Mr Kenneth Dong when a friend of mine introduced him to me several years ago. I was told that he is a legitimate businessman and an importer of Asuki Industrial weighing scales. I consider him a friend but I do not know what his dealing and businesses are except for his ownership of Asuki,” Zubiri stated.
“He made me ‘ninong’ (godfather) at his wedding and I was only one of the senators, politicians and celebrities who were asked to be principal sponsors. I have not seen him since last Christmas, close to eight months ago. As a public servant, I meet a lot of people and I do not prejudge them,” he added.
Senator Zubiri also stressed that he does not allow any illegal act, especially if drugs is part of it, stating also that he was one of the writers of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drug Act.
On the other hand, Senator Hontiveros said it was in 2012 when she met Dong, who was introduced to her as a legitimate businessman involved in the sales of industrial weighing class.
She also mentioned Dong’s assistance to her before in her senatorial campaign same as in her relief operations for Supertyphoon Yolanda’s victims.
“Noong 2013, ako, kasama ng mga kapwa o senador gaya nina Senators Migz Zubiri, Kiko Pangilinan at Ralph Recto, ay naimbitahan mag ninong at mag ninang sa kanyang kasal. Kaya’t pare-pareho kaming nagulat ng mabanggit ang kanyanag pangalan sa Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing.” Senator Hontiveros said.
(In 2013, me and my fellow senators like Senators Migz Zubiri, Kiko Pangilinan and Ralph Recto, were invited to stand as godfather and godmother for his wedding. That is why we were shocked when his name was called in the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing)
“I will not tolerate any accusations of irregularity that will smear my personal integrity and record of service to the people” She added.
Although Senator Pangilinan denied that Mr. Dong helped with his campaign, he confirmed that he was one of the sponsors during Dong’s wedding.
“No he wasn’t a campaign donor. I met Mr. Kenneth Dong when I was chairman of the Senate Committee on agriculture and food during my second term as senator. I was the keynote speaker during the International Agri Tourism Summit upon his invitation. In November 2013, I became one of the sponsors during his wedding.” Pangilinan said.
Pangilinan advised Dong to face the investigation if he has nothing to conceal.
“I read on the papers that Kenneth insists on his innocence. If so, then he has nothing to hide and should answer the accusations by just telling the truth. We will not condone wrongdoing. We believe those wrongly accused should be absolved and those guilty be held account regardless of who they are,” he added.
For Senator Villanueva’s part, he said that Dong really did donate for his campaign but don’t personally know him.
“I met Mr. Kenneth Dong when I was invited to grace the opening of the 1st International Agriculture Tourism Expo on June 30, 2011 at the World Trade Center. We talked about the agricultural programs of TESDA being the agency’s director general at the time,” according to Villanueva.”
“Since then, I never had a substantial meeting or interaction with Mr. Dong,” he added.
During the campaign period, Senator Villanueva informed the Dong was one of the businessmen who donated when he was conducting Fund Raising projects and that he never had an interaction with Mr. Dong personally because it was his campaign team who receives all the donations for his campaign.
“My conscience is clear, I barely know Mr. Dong. I don’t have his number, we never talk on the phone,” he added