GMA: Wide discretion over Malampaya fund lawful

Arroyo's Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr decries the DOJ's 'file now, investigate later' tactic

MANILA, Philippines – As far as former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is concerned, her extensive discretion over the utilization of the Malampaya fund is in accordance with the law.  

This was the statement made by Arroyo’s legal counsel and chief of staff Raul Lambino after the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed plunder charges Thursday, October 3, against the former president and 5 of her Cabinet officials for allegedly conniving with a syndicate to pocket P900 million worth of Malampaya funds. 

READ: Plunder raps vs GMA over Malampaya fund 

As far as the former President is concerned, the P20 billion plus Malampaya funds were authorized pursuant to the policies and purposes as mandated by the provisions of Presidential Decree 910,” Lambino said in a statement. 

Under Presidential Decree 910, the shares of the national government from the the Malampaya fund should be utilized for energy-related projects.  

After a series of typhoons in the country, Arroyo issued Executive Order 848 on Oct 13, 2009, expanding the use of the Malampaya fund to include rehabilitation and reconstruction purposes. 

The P900 million amount now in question, released to the Department of Agrarian Reform, was intended for farmers who were affected by natural calamities. 

READ: How the Malampaya fund was plundered

No chance to explain?

Arroyo’s then budget secretary and now Camarines Sur Rep Rolando Andaya Jr questioned why his name was dragged in the case when none of the whistleblowers nor Napoles have testified against his direct involvement in the Malampaya fund scam. 

“The whistleblowers said they have never seen me or talked to me,” Andaya told reporters. “Napoles doesn’t know me and not even a paparazzi’s photograph could dispute this. If the so-called masterminds are the ones saying that I have no direct involvement in the plunder of Malampaya funds, why I am now being dragged into this?”

Andaya, whose department as then budget secretary oversees the release of all government funds, said his job “did not come with an early warning device” that would alert him “about a possible hijacking or pilfering when the funds are on its way to the beneficiaries.”

“Not every request for fund release should be treated with criminal suspicion. In this case, who would have thought that funds for typhoon victims will find its way into the pockets or bathtubs of others?” he added. 

Andaya also decried DOJ’s supposed “file now, investigate later” tactics in relation to the scam, saying that he was not given the chance to respond to the charges. 

“I have volunteered myself to any investigation,” Andaya said. “But not even a text was sent to me as an invitation. I was open for a grilling…. I’m begging my accusers to invite me in their quest for truth. Na’ndito lang po ako sa sidewalk ng daang matuwid (I’m just standing here by the sidewalk of the so-called straight path),” referring to the Aquino administration’s slogan.

Also included in the plunder complaint are former Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, former Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman, and alleged mastermind Janet Lim Napoles, among others. – Rappler.com

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