MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang is confident that Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (Tesda) chief Joel Villanueva will make the “right decision,” following allegations that he misused funds when he was a party-list representative.
Palace Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr made the statement when asked whether Villanueva’s work at Tesda would be affected by his inclusion in a justice department complaint, and an Ombudsman probe – both involving alleged fund misuse when he was a lawmaker.
Coloma said that Villanueva is a “conscientious public servant” who has shown his resolve in implementing programs that seek to improve lives by giving technical and vocational skills to the less privileged.
“This is why we can rest assured that he will make the right decision, and that decision will be based on the public interest, and will not adversely affect the work of his agency,” the Palace official said.
Asked if Malacañang will ask Villanueva to take a leave of absence so he can concentrate on his defense, Coloma said that the law does not mandate this.
“We will just leave this to the concerned official,” Coloma said.
Villanueva, an ally and friend of President Benigno Aquino III, is part of a Department of Justice complaint against 40 individuals allegedly involved in the misuse of lawmakers’ funds or the PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) scam.
Also on Friday, August 7, the Office of the Ombudsman approved a recommendation to begin a preliminary investigation and administrative proceedings against Villanueva, former agriculture secretary Arthur Yap, and 9 others in connection with a separate allegation of PDAF misuse.
Another Aquino ally, former Muntinlupa representative Rozzano Rufino “Ruffy” Biazon, resigned as Customs chief in December 2013, after the DOJ implicated him in the pork barrel scam. – Rappler.com