Palace not probing Abad on PDAF scam

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Monday, May 26, 2014

MALACANANG has not initiated any investigation against Budget Secretary Florencio Abad despite persistent allegations that he was involved in the multi-billion peso pork barrel scam.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Monday that due process requires that there should be information of the accusation against a person.

"There is none because there has -- we are waiting for the extended affidavit," he said when asked if the Palace has started any probe against Abad.


"There are allegations, as you know; but due process would require that we -- the person accused is provided information of the accusation against you. We have not seen any signed affidavit from Mrs. (Janet Lim) Napoles," he said in a regular press briefing.

Napoles allegedly mentioned in her affidavit that Abad was also involved in the alleged misuse of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

Just recently, whistleblower Merlinas Suñas also allegedly implicated Abad as one of the conspirators in the scam when he was still a lawmaker of Batanes.

Lacierda said he would ask the Department of Justice (DOJ) if Suñas' affidavit executed last year dragged Abad into the controversy. Abad denied the allegation.

The Palace spokesman said that Abad is performing a "very important job" in the administration, adding he has made reforms in the Budget department.

"Butch Abad has been portrayed in quite a negative fashion. The reforms that he has made, if you outline all the reforms that he has undertaken together with the President which show that -- you will not believe that Butch Abad is involved in any way with respect to the allegations... that he is involved one way or the other with the PDAF," he said.

Meanwhile, on a newspaper report wherein certain "Tres Marias" was tagged as Malacañang bagmen, Lacierda denied this.

The Daily Tribune reported an unnamed source that the Tres Marias allegedly referred to Rochelle Ahoro, said to be a personal secretary of the high Palace official; Odette Ong, assistant secretary of administration and finance; and Mary Antoinette Lucile Ortile, assistant to the Executive Secretary.

In the case of Ortile, Lacierda said that she has been out of government and has not been working for the Palace or under the Executive Secretary.

"It’s definitely incorrect. We have a saying in law, 'falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus.’ False in one, false in all. So the fact that you have identified someone who’s no longer in government as a 'bag lady' shows the quality of the source," he said.

In the case of Ong, he said that she is with the Internal House Affairs Office (IHAO).

Ong, in a statement, clarified that she's not heading the Finance and Administration Department of the Office of the President.

"My function is limited to being Head of the Office of the Special Assistant to the President with a mandate to directly supervise the Internal House Affairs Office. My responsibility involves direct supervision of day-to-day operations related to official functions and uses of the presidential residences/offices which includes among others, the Palace, Bonifacio Hall and Baguio Mansion House. I don't have any authority over any other office," she said.

Lacierda did not mention anything about Ahoro. (SDR/Sunnex)

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