Rappler file photo of Abad, Alcala file photo courtesy of the Malacau00f1ang Palace
MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Saturday, May 17, denied allegations the administration was protecting its allies implicated in the pork barrel scam, the biggest corruption scandal in Philippine history.
In a press briefing over state-owned DZRB, deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte responded to protesters' accusations that President Benigno Aquino III was protecting allies who plundered their pork barrel allocations. "Hindi naman pinoprotektahan ng Pangulo kung sino ho ‘yung may ginawang mali," she said.
“Lagi ngang sinasabi ng Pangulo, ‘imbestigahan at siguraduhin na merong ebidensiya,’ tingin ko ‘yung sinasabi nila,” Valte added. (The President always says, "Investigate and find evidence." Maybe that’s what [protesters are] referring to.)
Tagged in the pork barrel scam are several of Aquino’s Cabinet members, as well as administration-allied legislators.
The Palace, in previous statements, said former Batanes representative and now Budget Secretary Butch Abad, and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala still have the President’s trust.
Both names were in a list given by alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles to Rehabilitation Secretary Panfilo Lacson. The two Cabinet secretaries were also in a signed list of legislators Napoles handed over to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
“Ang nginingitngit siguro ho nung iba ay just on their say-so ay hindi po dini-dismiss ng Pangulong Aquino ‘yung miyembro ng Gabineteng pinipilit na idawit na wala pong kaukulang ebidensiya,” added Valte.
(What others are riled up about is that on their mere say-so, President Aquino is not dismissing members of the Cabinet who are being forcibly implicated in the scam despite the lack of evidence.)
A tale of several lists
Valte said those implicated in the pork barrel scam – administration allies or not – are “entitled to the process that should be rightfully followed.” Also in the list is Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) head Joel Villanueva.
The Palace also earlier dismissed the “unsigned” version of the Napoles list – the one that Lacson gave to the Senate – as a “mere scrap of paper.” Lacson handed over the list on Tuesday, May 13.
De Lima, meanwhile, gave her version of the Napoles list two days later on May 15. Napoles’ accompanying affidavit, De Lima said, would follow.
Napoles’ camp said only one version of the list exists – the one submitted to De Lima. Napoles’ counsel Bruce Rivera told reporters on May 14 that while they did give Lacson a version of the list, his was incomplete.
Some versions of the list, said Rivera, contained names that were not on the list submitted to De Lima. “Maybe there are people who want to create suspicion on our list. There’s only one list,” he said.
The two Napoles lists – from De Lima and Lacson – both include the names of 3 senators also indicted for plunder: Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, Senator Bong Revilla, and Senator Jinggoy Estrada. Napoles herself faces plunder charges. – Rappler.com