Ochoa on Napoles requests: 'No action was taken'
MANILA, Philippines – Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr, whose name appeared on the deleted files of pork barrel scam primary whistleblower Benhur Luy, said he had no transactions with alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
On Friday, May 30, Ochoa released a statement, saying "no action was taken" on a request addressed to his office for livelihood projects for farmers.
"In June 2012, the Office of the President received a letter from Sen Jinggoy Estrada requesting funding support amounting to 250 million pesos for livelihood projects for small farmers located in various provinces," the statement read.
Ochoa said "as with requests of this nature, as well as those addressed to the President" the letter was "endorsed to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for appropriate action."
"Per initial inquiries with the DBM, no action was taken on the said request," he said.
Estrada is one of 3 lawmakers who face plunder charges for his alleged involvement in the country's biggest corruption scam in recent history. Estrada is accused of conniving with Napoles to channel his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to her bogus non-governmental organizations in exchange for hefty kickbacks.
Luy, Napoles' assistant turned whistleblower, earlier submitted his digital files detailing Napoles' daily transactions and activities to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee. Reports said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) was able to recover deleted files, including two draft letters to Ochoa and at least two addressed to the President.
Ochoa is one of President Benigno Aquino III's closest friends.
Malacañang on Friday also reacted to the recovered files.
"We note that the deleted files purportedly pertain to unsigned draft letters addressed to certain lawmakers and to Secretary Ochoa," said Press Secretary Sonny Coloma.
"Hence, this could hardly be considered as having any probative value."
Ochoa is the 4th Cabinet secretary of Aquino whose name has surfaced in relation to the scam. Napoles had earlier named Budget Secretary Butch Abad, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) head Joel Villanueva as having transacted with her.
The President has defended his Cabinet. - Rappler.com